Research: Do kids believe it’s okay for parents to set rules about rehab?

As children become teens, they take more and more control over the decisions that govern their lives. Parents set rules, but teens who disagree with those rules have choices: they can obey, argue, or hide the fact that they’re not doing what they’re supposed to.

In the US, most parents and teens agree that it’s okay for parents to set rules about health and safety issues, but not about personal matters. When they don’t think it’s okay for parents to set rules, they are much more comfortable lying when they don’t obey.

Imke Hart spent the last year trying to understand how that applies to kids living with chronic pain. Late adolescents completed surveys about health behaviors and more typical teen issues like spending time with friends, getting homework done, etc.

Preliminary research suggests bad news for doctors and parents. Teens believe that many of the things on the pain rehab docket (exercise, meditation, diet, hydration) are personal issues. Most report they don’t have to follow parents’ advice in those areas, and it’s okay to lie when they don’t. We are extending our work to understand how those beliefs change with age and to understand parents’ and adolescents’ beliefs about doctors’ guidelines.

Imke and fellow students Lucas Mendicino, Ruth Beiber, and Emma Marcus presented the results of their study in Spring 2019.