Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens found teens with more family routines during adolescence had higher rates of college enrollment and were less likely to use alcohol in young adulthood, among other positive outcomes.
They analyzed data collected from more than 500 rural African American teens beginning when they were 16 and continuing until they were 21. The teens whose primary caregivers reported more family routines – such as regular meal times, consistent bedtimes and after school schedules – reported less alcohol use, greater self-control and emotional well-being and higher rates of college enrollment in young adulthood.
Researchers also analyzed biological samples from the teens and found that those with more family routines during adolescence showed lower levels of epinephrine, a stress hormone.
“If we’re going to make a difference in our lives and in our family members’ lives, we have to make a difference in the everyday,” said lead author Allen Barton, an assistant research scientist at the Center for Family Research and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Routines play an important role in making that happen.”
He says, " it may not be one single thing that family routines give kids, but it might be a lot of little things that accumulate over time to have this long-term effect."
The bottom line according to this study is that routine, consistency and predictability are powerful influences on a teen's life.
The findings were published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health.