Approximately forty-four percent of teens do not have solid relationships with their families. This statistic is influenced by relationships with parents, friends, grades, financial situations, and even more. According to a study led by Joseph P. Allen, “Teens with more secure family relationships get a head start on developing empathy.” Empathy is the ability to understand what another person is experiencing, even if you’ve never been through it yourself. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an important skill that develops over time. Empathy leads over social interactions and adult relationships in the workplace. In order to be relatively successful in our modern society, social interactions are key. The ability to empathize and communicate is sought out for. In order to create a safer generation, we must build this skill at a young age.
Based on Allen’s study, teens who are in safe environments by the age fourteen have already developed this skill and were able to provide higher amounts of support compared to teens with bad family relationships when they were young. What’s especially interesting, is that teens who were in need of support subconsciously sought out people with secure lives, as their support system does not necessarily revolve around how close they are with that friend. Thus, family relationships influence social relationships and the opportunity to practice giving and receiving empathy. “Teens who are more empathetic are less aggressive, exhibit less prejudice and are less likely to bully others,” says Jessica Stern. Their research shows us that empathy starts with feeling safe and building secure relationships built on trust and communication. With a secure foundation at a young age, teens will grow to share empathy with others and create a safer environment in general.
Well now we know that relationships with parents and siblings are important to building a mentally healthy future, but how can we create these secure relationships from the start? Because every family situation is different in its own right, the best the society can provide as a whole is reliable means of communication and ways of getting help. Creating awareness for these bad situations at school and social media allows people to be more safe to share their experiences and seek help. Making sure teachers can spot problems at home also allows for the student to move to a safer situation. Additionally, teaching parents how to provide necessary care from the start also improves the statistic. Even little changes like these will amount to big effects on society as a whole. Make sure you check on your friends and even family, as just a simple check-in is beneficial to their mental health and self-care!