If you’re a millennial who grew up with gentle parenting and never heard “because I said so” from your parents, you might be predisposed to have healthier relationships as an adult. A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence has found that adolescents who report having parents who provide reasons for decisions and refrain from harsh punishments, tend to have better relationship problem-solving skills and less violent romantic relationships as young adults.
The ability to form close relationships is an important skill for adolescents to learn, and the family relationship is the first intimate relationship in life. From that first relationship, we learn skills we apply to later relationships. We learn to communicate effectively, or inversely, to yell and scream at each other.
Researchers recruited over 900 adolescents for the study and had them answer several questions at three points in time between sixth and ninth grade. The participants reported on their family climate, their parents’ discipline strategies, and if they have positive interactions with their parents. The results of the study demonstrate that a positive family climate in adolescence is associated with better problem-solving skills in later romantic relationships. The researchers also found that more cohesive and organized family structures, and more effective parenting strategies, are associated with a lower risk of violence in young adult relationships.
Mengya Xia, a graduate student in human development and family studies at Penn State says, "In the study, we saw kids who were more assertive had better problem-solving skills in their later relationships, which is so important." She adds, "if you can't solve a problem constructively, you may turn to negative strategies, which could include violence. So I think it's important to promote constructive problem-solving as a way to avoid or diminish the possibility of someone resorting to destructive strategies in a relationship."