Why Providing Support Is Important

Father walking with teenage daughter and son

The Power of Support

Everyday support in the family—We all need support to learn, grow, and reach goals. Research shows that support from parents plays a big role in how well children do, including:

  • Higher GPA and better adjustment in school;
  • Higher self-esteem and lower depression;
  • Lower rates of substance abuse; and
  • Less stress or emotional problems.1

Support for parenting adults—Parents do better when they have support at home and from extended family and friends. For example:

  • Work -family conflicts are less stressful when they have a lot of support at home, including from their partner.2
  • When parents have more support from others, they are more likely to use positive parenting practices.3
  • Parents who have strong support (especially in violent neighborhoods) are less likely to mistreat their children.4

Support in the face of challenges—Some situations call for extra support. These situations include school struggles, medical issues, and big life transitions. Here are some examples:

  • Teenagers who face bullying in schools are more likely to do well in school if they have a lot of support from their families and peers.5
  • The stress of living in a dangerous neighborhood is reduced when young people have a lot of support from parents.6
  • Children who use special education services depend on their parents to speak up for their needs and strengths.7
  • High levels of parental (and other) support is associated with lower levels of depression and a higher quality of life among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. 8,9

Too much support? As important as support is, you can also overdo it. If parents do things for their kids that take away their growth, autonomy, and learning (or don’t do enough to challenge growth), it hurts kids’ development.10

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to explore the ways you provide support in your family.
  • Learn about how families in the United States provide support.

Research Sources

1. Rueger, S. Y., Malecki, C. K., & Demaray, M. K. (2010). Relationship between multiple sources of perceived social support and psychological and academic adjustment in early adolescence: Comparisons across gender. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(1), 47–61. doi:10.1007/s10964-008-9368-6

2. Van Daalen, G., Willemsen, T. M., & Sanders, K. (2006). Reducing work-family conflict through different sources of social support. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69, 462–476. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2006.07.005

3. Lee, C.-Y. S., Anderson, J. R., Horowitz, J. L., & August, G. J. (2009). Family Income and Parenting: The Role of Parental Depression and Social Support. Family Relations, 58, 417–430. doi:10.2307/40405700

4. Martin, A., Gardner, M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2012). The mediated and moderated effects of family support on child maltreatment. Journal of Family Issues, 33(7), 920–941. doi:10.1177/0192513X11431683

5. Rothon, C., Head, J., Klineberg, E., & Stansfeld, S. (2011). Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools in East London. Journal of Adolescence,34(3), 579–588. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.02.007

6. Bowen, G. L., & Chapman, M. V. (1996). Poverty, neighborhood danger, social support, and the individual adaptation among at-risk youth in urban areas. Journal of Family Issues. doi:10.1177/019251396017005004

7. Trainor, A. A. (2010). Diverse approaches to parent advocacy during special education home--school interactions. Remedial and Special Education, 31(1), 34-47. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0741932508324401

8. Simons, L., Schrager, S. M., Clark, L. F., Belzer, M. Olson, J., (2013). Parental support and mental health among transgender adolescents, Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(6), 791-793, ISSN 1054-139X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.07.019.

9. Mustanski, B., & Liu, R. T. (2013). A longitudinal study of predictors of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, Archives of Sexual Behavior 42(3), 437-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-0013-9

10. Schiffrin, H. H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H., Geary, K. A., Erchull, M. J., & Tashner, T. (2013). Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(3), 548–557. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9716-3