Parents of adolescents in Georgia require further support

Parents are struggling to fulfil their obligations and children and adolescents feel they are not being supported enough, according to a recently released study about parenting of adolescents in Georgia.

UNICEF
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UNICEF/Geo-2018

12 January 2019

Parents are struggling to fulfil their obligations and children and adolescents feel they are not being supported enough, according to a recently released study about parenting of adolescents in Georgia.

Authoritative parenting styles also continue to be practised in Georgian society and yelling is still one of the most commonly used ways for a parent to assert their authority. 

I might just raise my voice and that’s it; if I yell – everyone calms down”, said a father who took part in one of the focus groups run by the researchers. 

The nation-wide study, commissioned by UNICEF Georgia, provides an interesting insight into parenting practices and the support systems that are in place for parents of adolescents and will help to support government policies in this area. 

The researchers gathered views from parents and adolescents through interviews and focus groups trying to understand the challenges both parents and adolescents face during early and late adolescence 

The overall findings suggest that adolescents develop in the context of different interrelated relationships, that tend to change and become more complex at the same time as an adolescent’s physical and mental development. An adolescent’s ability to cope with these complex situations depends on parenting dynamics, and the practices and attitudes that parents adopt as well as various micro and macro factors.

The researchers found that there are many cases where adolescents feel that they are not being fully supported emotionally by their parents.

‘When young people hurt themselves, it happens because they don’t get enough love from their families, or from anyone […]’,said14-17-year-old girl, participant of the focus group.  

“Parents need to know just how influential they are in their adolescence life. Parents need to impact their children’s skills to cope with different developmental challenges”, explains UNICEF Representative in Georgia Dr. Ghassan Khalil. 

The researchers also found that gender continues to play a key role in influencing parenting styles. For example, many families still place a higher responsibility for housework on girls. Likewise, while education is seen as important for both girls and boys, some families place more importance on education for boys, who are considered to be future breadwinners. A majority of parents also place greater restrictions on their daughters’ behaviour giving them less autonomy and freedom.

As explains, a father who took part in one focus group: ‘As girl[s] belongs to a weaker sex, one must forbid specific clothing or going outside more than to boys’.

Additionally, few parents are involved in many important aspects of their adolescents’ life such as preventions of risky behaviour, sexual and reproductive health, psychological wellbeing, prevention of violence.

Economic factors also have a major impact on the amount of quality time parents are able to spend with their children. Fathers were found to be particularly absent from their families due to their work commitments. 

Social transformations, such as the rise of smart phones and the internet are also influencing parenting dynamics and practices.

Overall, both parents and adolescents agree that positive parenting practices can be learnt. 

‘I would like to learn more about the mechanisms that work, that I don’t have knowledge about, said one of the fathers, participant of the focus group.  

This is the focus of many of the recommendations of the study, which highlight the need for greater recognition amongst Georgian policy makers of the unique needs and competencies of adolescents and their parents, and the need for expanded, targeted support for parents of adolescents.

UNICEF hopes that the study will influence government policies in this area. UNICEF Representative in Georgia, Dr. Ghassan Khalil, explains further: 

“In Georgia there are no parenting support programmes. The objective of our study is to support the Government in developing national policies and programmes for parents of adolescents, so that they are equipped with competencies they need for positive parenting and to provide constructive support for adolescents.” 

This was the first ever study looking at parents of adolescents and parenting support programmes in Georgia. It was conducted as part of UNICEF’s regional research on “Parenting Adolescent and Parenting Support Programmes”. Countries that participated in the research included Bulgaria, Belarus, Georgia, Montenegro, Moldova, Romania.