Teens Who “Talk Back” To Mom More Likely To Resist Peer Pressure

As a woman who works in schools every day, I’m well versed in the teenage art of argument and negotiation. There are those teens who try to reason with me to get what they want and those who use insults, whining and pressure to do the same. Can you guess which teens fare better with me?

A recent study published in the journal of Child Development has found some interesting results regarding teens and peer pressure when it comes to arguing. Turns out that teens who “talk back” to their mothers with reasoned arguments rather that whining or insults are less likely to be influenced by peer pressure. The researchers call this type of arguing productive arguing.

Other factors that influenced a teen’s ability to resist peer pressure include:

  • Their independence or autonomy
  • Their parents ability to trust them to make their own decisions
  • Their ability to stick to their values in the face of someone challenging them, like a parent
  • Their ability to turn to their mothers under stress
  • Support from their mothers at home
  • Friends who do not engage in drug and alcohol use

The study was two-fold. First participants, 184 seventh and eighth graders from urban and suburban populations in the Southeast, answered questions about drug and alcohol use and their friendships and social acceptance. Then while being observed in a lab, teens and their moms were asked to discuss a topic that would prompt argument like money, grades, or household rules.

Peer pressure is something every teen will experience in their life. Giving them the tools to resist negative peer pressure cannot be ignored. According to this study that might mean giving teens the freedom to argue and make their case at home when it comes to issues where their parents might disagree. Turns out that learning to argue productively at home, may help a teen argue against using drugs or alcohol with friends.

What do you think about the study? Are teens who “talk back” at home more likely to resist negative peer pressure from friends?

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Photo credit: Photo by Iskir used under a Creative Commons license.


Joe Beiter
Joseph Beiter5 years ago

I never argue with my parents and have always thought for myself and have not given in to any peer pressure before

Delaine Buksa
Delaine Buksa5 years ago

I argue with my parents on a regular basis, and feel very little "peer pressure"

Vernon Bachor
Vernon Bachor5 years ago

Wow, anecdotal evidence and a self reported study. Holy scientific Batman.
They must have gotten exactly the results they were looking for. *facepalm*

I have found in my anecdotal research that girls who back talk their parents anre the ones who are following peer pressure the most and were the leaders in drugs and alcohol for their peer group. Based on my study of my gr 7-9 school years the student I knew who were polite to their parents didn't begin to drink until secondary school, yet the louder, more out spoken when dealing with authority figures, students tended to smoke, drink and engage in sex at younger ages. Provided that they were accepted by the rest of the social peerage. Even then there was a division within that latter grouping of who would be sexually active despite the drinking, smoking and speaking against authority actions.

So Anecdata battle that :-P

Jessie Dijkstra
Jessie D5 years ago


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

It's cool that they did a statistical study to back up the obvious. "Productive arguing" indicates higher developed reasoning skills and logic. Seems like a DUH moment to me, but we have to back up everything related to education with studies anymore even when it should be common sense.

Su Mrnda
Su Mrnda6 years ago

I was raised by pretty permissive parents so I never really had to "talk back" and I probably could have gotten away with doing a lot of things, but I didn't because I was always committed to making my own choices and wasn't about to let myself be pressured into doing things.

Authoritarianism just tells people to yield to power. In the home, it's the parents, but outside, the "power" is the peer group. Kid who are used to making their own decisions will fare better, probably also because they'll have their own reasons for doing things rather than just "someone told me not to."

I would agree that (most of the time) people think more rationally as they get older, but I think I've met some teenagers with better reasoning skills than some adults I know.

Amy Anne C.
Amy Anne C.6 years ago

I thought having a loving family and good values will be enable you to withstand any pressures given to teens at school. This is definitely different. Hopefully, this is true for all those parents that has trouble with their teens. :)

the Other RobertO
Robert O6 years ago

Talking back to your parents, and being mentally and verbally reasonable may be two entirely different things.

Robert F.

The parent child dynamic is essentially a power structure. The parent needs to maintain power and authority over their children. As kids seek to express their own budding sense of personal power, they come up against the innate authority of their parents. Allowing kids to talk back in the first placer rather than maintain absolute authority is a great learning experience for kids. The chi8lds brain is not set up for rational thinking until about the age of 20 or so. The more that we allow them, and guide them into rational argument practices the more that we are fostering the growth of their brains in healthy ways. The child is learning to express his or her point of view. It is parents who see that as talking back.

Debbie W.
Past Member 6 years ago

All kids push the limits in their quest to find their own identity. When there is openness of communication in and throughout the first 5-10 years, the basis for further respect and dignity on both sides is allowed to flourish. Too bad so many miss the boat.