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Study: Ease of communication between Icelandic children and their parents among the greatest in the world

By Staff

  • Strong families, healthy and happy teens and young adults Communication in the family is an indicator of social support and of the family’s connectedness, the report argues, and can prevent young people from participating in behaviours which pose risks to their health and well-being. Photo/Sara 

An international study organized by the World Health Organization, reveals that Icelandic children find it easy to talk to their parents. Icelandic fathers come out on top of the list when it comes to ease of communication with both their sons and daughters.

The report notes that parental communication is crucial for the wellbeing and health of children, operating as “one of the key portals through which the family functions as a protective health asset, equipping young people to deal with stressful situations and buffering them against adverse influences. … Supportive communication with parents also moderates the negative effects of electronic media use on life satisfaction during adolescence.”

Read more: Study: Icelandic teenagers spend more time with parents, consume less alcohol, drugs

Specifically, a positive father–child relationship is important since ease of communication with fathers “has a protective role in maintaining young people’s emotional well-being, self-esteem and positive body image, particularly for girls.”

Strong father-child bonds
The study, Health and Behaviour of School-Aged Children, surveyed a number of health related factors for 220,000 children of both genders, aged 11, 13 and 15 from 42 countries in North America and Europe. The study found that 92% of 11 year old boys and 87% of girls found it easy to talk to their fathers, both of which were the highest measures reported in the study. The average for the 41 countries was that 83% of 11 year old boys and 73% of 11 year old girls reported they found it easy to talk to their fathers.

The report also found that this ease of communication between Icelandic fathers and their children did not fall as much with age as it did in many other countries. For 15 year olds the average dropped by 9% in the case of boys and 16% for girls, compared to an average of 10% for boys and 19% for girls. At 15 83% of Icelandic boys reported they found it easy to talk to their fathers and 71% of girls, compared to the average of 73% and 54% respectively.

Read more: Iceland has the second highest quality of life among OECD countries

Communication with a father-figure appears to influence and affect boys and girls in different ways, the report points out. “Communication difficulties with fathers are associated with internalizing problems, especially in girls, but perceived closeness, paternal attachment and open communication reduces girls’ engagement with health-risk behaviours. The quality of the relationship with a father-figure has been found to be predictive of the development of negative emotions such as aggression in boys and emotional difficulties in girls.”

Still, Icelandic adolescents have closer relationships with their mothers
Even if Icelandic fathers have particularly strong relationships with their children, Icelandic children and adolescents find it easier to talk to their mothers. Depending on age and gender, Icelandic children are 2-13% more likely to find it easy to talk to their mothers than fathers. The ease of communication between Icelandic adolescents and their mothers is also among the highest in the world, ranking in fourth place among the 42 countries in the study.

 

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