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Mommy's Alright, Daddy's Alright

Actor Adam Sandler accepts the award for Choice Movie Hissy Fit at the Teen Choice Awards 2003 in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003.
AP
The nation's teens have spoken: Mom and dad, you're doing just fine.

Almost 75 percent of high school students said they get along very well, if not extremely well, with their parents or guardians, a survey finds.

Of the rest, 23 percent called the relationship "just OK," and only 3 percent said they don't get along well with their parents.

Overall, teenagers have a lot more admiration than animosity for their family members, despite popular notions to the contrary, "The State of Our Nation's Youth" survey says.

The Horatio Alger Association, which provides college scholarships and mentoring to needy students, released the annual report on youth attitudes Tuesday. Conducted in April and May, the phone survey was given to 1,055 high school students, most of them 14 to 18 years old.

The family-friendly theme stands out among this year's findings.

Asked how they'd like to spend more time, more teens said they would rather be with their families than hang out with friends, play sports, listen to music or do anything else.

Teens put family members atop their list of role models — far ahead of entertainers and athletes — and more than nine in 10 said they have at least one family member to confide in.

The teen years are a natural time for separation, but the last year has not been a normal one, said Peter Hart, whose research company wrote the report. War in Iraq, a faltering economy, scandals in business and the church — today's teens have absorbed it all, Hart said.

"During all of the turmoil and change, instead of isolating themselves, I think they've drawn themselves back toward family," Hart said. "It's family and friends that are their support network."

Three in four students say they are optimistic about the country's future. "It's almost as if they have built-in shock absorbers," Hart said.

Even the disputes teens have with their parents aren't of great consequence, the survey finds. The most common argument, teens say, is over cleaning their rooms. In a boom time for bellybutton rings and tattoos, only 4 percent of fights are about student appearance.

The findings should be encouraging to busy parents, but they also are a warning, Hart said.

"The kids who are in high school are telling parents, 'We're listening yo you, we care about what you think, and we'd like to spend more time with you,"' Hart said.

Academic demands put the most stress on students, more so than family squabbles, financial worries or social pressures, the survey says.

Asked about the pressure of getting good grades, 42 percent of students called it a major problem, up from 26 percent two years ago. The largest increases were among black students, sophomores and juniors.

Among other findings from the survey:

Almost half of students — 47 percent — said they have solid or strong confidence in Congress. Only 26 percent said the same about the media.

Fifty-eight percent of students said they have their own television, and 45 percent have their own cell phone. Almost all students — 97 percent — said there is a computer in their home.

Forty-seven percent of students report spending six or more hours per week on their homework, up from 37 percent last year.

Sixty percent of students say standardized tests are a good way to measure their progress. Last year, 65 percent thought such tests were a good idea.

The poll had an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.