Friday, October 27, 2006

Parental Involvement Deters Teens Drug Use

One of the things that attracted me to homeschooling was the opportunity to increase parent-child interactions. Good relationships take time. As a society, parents underestimate their influence upon their own children. On the other side, sometimes homeschool parents over estimate their influence upon their children. So, what parental factors most influence teen behavior?

This study about teen drug use caught my eye and answers that question.

Parental Involvement Deters Teens Drug Use

The surveyed teens were asked about identified risk factors for teen drug use including peer and sibling use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, parental monitoring, and how they perceived their parents' tolerance of drug and alcohol use on a 5-point scale.

For every point increase in parental tolerance of alcohol use, the frequency of teen use of alcohol increased by 80 percent.

For every point increase in parental tolerance of marijuana use, there was a 33 percent increase in the frequency of marijuana use.

The frequency of drug use dropped by 14 percent for each degree that teens perceived their parents as monitoring their activities.

Along this line of investigation, I found Parents Make a Difference on the Project Cork web page. Here are some of their conclusions.

The quality of family relationships and the amount of time adolescents spend with family is a more important influence on adolescent's substance use than is the kind of family in which teenagers are living, whether it is with both parents, a parent or step-parent, in a single parent home, or live with non-family members.

Adolescent's perceptions of the parenting style in their home are linked to adolescents' substance use. Teens who view their parents generally as authoritative (know what they are talking about), as not permissive (who have standards and clear expectations), and as less authoritarian ("do it because I say so") do better in school and also are less likely to use substances.

Experimentation and use among elementary age children is associated with parenting styles that encourage risk taking, by parent's substance use.

Adolescent drinking behaviour is found to be largely unrelated to the socio-economiccircumstances of the family. A supportive family environment is associated with lowered rates of alcohol use.

This quote from researcher Stephen Bahr best sums up the results:

"..... influence of peers is strong, but it is mediated by characteristics of parents..."

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