Chinese culture's encouragement of suppressing emotions has led to poor relationships between youngsters and their parents, new research has concluded. Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, of the Department of Social Work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, sent questionnaires to 3,649 students in Forms one to four at 26 secondary schools. He concluded: 'As a whole, their attitudes towards their families were quite positive. However, there are still areas to be concerned about, like poor communication and understanding and lack of common activity in families.' Dr Shek said he was particularly concerned by the shortage of emotional feedback among family members. The influence of traditional Chinese culture, which shaped most family attitudes even in modern society, was prevalent. 'We are not very emotionally expressive under this huge shadow,' he said. 'I urge parents to be more open-minded to their children in order to have a better relationship with them.' Poor family relationships had a deep impact on youngsters as family life was the backbone of their development. 'The study shows that people with unhappy family relationships have poor academic results and conduct, [and] higher frequency of smoking and soft drug use,' he said. Dr Shek said that according to his study, the older the age of the students, the poorer their family relationships were. 'Fourteen is the critical age,' he concluded. He said teachers and social workers were not doing enough to improve youngsters' relationships with their families, especially those under 14. It was natural that the distance between families and young people would increase as the latter grew older and became more independent. 'But we must do something more, teaching them to love their families and value their homes,' Dr Shek said.