That's the mantra for a healthy father-child relationship at this stage, a new study shows. Adolescents who receive a reason for the father's behaviour or a better understanding of who is at fault feel better about themselves and about their father as well.

"There has been a lot of evidence suggesting that talking to people about conflict is a good thing for adolescents," said lead study author Jeff Cookston from San Francisco State University's psychology department.

What we did for the first time was to look at what actually happens when they talk to someone, he said. The study is the first to explore the intricacies of what Cookston calls ‘guided cognitive reframing’.

Cookston and his colleagues surveyed 392 families about adolescents' conflicts with their co-resident fathers and stepfathers. The study found it is the quality of the reframing whether an explanation is provided for dad's behaviour or whether responsibility for the conflict is assigned that drives how they feel following the conversation.

"When kids get explanations and good reasons that fit with the world they see, it helps them feel better," Cookston said.

It is sometimes hard to change how adolescents feel about situations, but we can talk to them about how they think about those situations. The research is crucial as there is increasing attention on fathers who find themselves in transitional roles in today's economy, said the study appeared in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

(Agencies)

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