Parents Play Crucial Role in Teen Substance Abuse
Two research studies can give parents something to celebrate. For parents who lament that their children are more easily influenced by friends rather than them, these findings reveal that parents are the greater influence when children choose to use or avoid alcohol or drugs. But influence by parents and other family members can also be detrimental when children see their parents or siblings abuse substances.
When parents keep open caring communication with their children, provide guidelines, and keep involved with what their children are doing, they really do make a positive impact in their child’s life.
Family Social Capital & School Social Capital
While the bonds a child makes with their best friend and favorite teacher can be very strong, the bonds that a child makes with their family are even stronger. Researchers from North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Brigham Young University found this to be true in a family or school’s influence on whether a child engaged in substance abuse.
Researchers compared the bonds between children and both family social capital and school social capital in a survey of over 10,000 individuals including students, teachers, parents, and academic administrators. They found that students who had strong bonds of trust and communication with their parents and whose parents were actively involved in their life were less likely to abuse alcohol or marijuana than other children. Those with strong family bonds were more influenced by family than by their extracurricular activities, teachers, and their overall school campus.
Teach Your Children Well
Keeping in contact with a child is not the same as spying on them. Communication and awareness is crucial in helping to guide a child throughout their life. In a survey of over 4,200 students in grades 7 through 12, close monitoring was a crucial key in a second study on how parents and family may influence a child’s use of alcohol or drugs.
Researchers found that parents’ tolerance and monitoring of alcohol and drugs were huge influences on their child. Student participants used substances less frequently the more they thought they were being monitored by their parents. Parental monitoring also includes monitoring who their children associate with, which inevitably can help keep them further away from the direct influences of alcohol and drugs.
For those children whose parents or siblings openly used drugs or alcohol, the children were also influenced. If it seems fine to do at home, a child feels it is fine to do anywhere. Children whose older siblings used alcohol and drugs were between 50 and 70 percent more likely to use those substances. Parents need to be cautious as to how they are influencing their child and if parents have a substance abuse problem, the best way for them to help their family is to get treatment and keep their child from falling into the same abuse.
Two Worlds Working Together
Researchers assert that schools and peers still have a great influence on a child’s use of alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse prevention programs are still important influences in schools, yet researchers emphasize that the best teachers start at home. With support from both family and school, children can be best educated and nurtured on avoiding substance abuse.