Befriend Your Child

Alcohol tobacco and drug use reduced when teens can talk to their moms

(RxWiki News) Forming a close relationship with your teenager might have its ups and downs, but research suggests open communication promotes individual decision-making, even if the talk is not all that agreeable.  

Available through the journal Child Development, a new study states that teens who express their viewpoints with their mothers tend to resist the peer pressure to drink, smoke, and participate in drugs.  

"Help develop your teen’s voice by talking to them about everyday life."

“The healthy autonomy [teens] established at home seemed to carry over into their relationships with peers,” explains Joseph Allen, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Virginia. Allen’s study also showed that teens with a good relationship with their parents typically avoided substance abuse as well.

Researchers talked with the parents and friends of over one-hundred-and-fifty teens ages 13, 15, and 16 as well as the adolescents individually in order to understand their interactions with substances, parents, friends, and peers. The study additionally analyzed their observed social etiquette while interacting.

Many who chose to abstain most from alcohol, tobacco, and other substances learned to “argue” with their mothers about everyday life topics like money, grades, house rules, and friends. In this case, arguing is defined as an educated debate hoping to persuade with reason and not whining, crying, or using explicit language.

Overall, the study found teens that held a voice in family discussions felt more confident to make their own decision and reject peer influences towards alcohol and drugs.

Allen comments, “It may be that teens who are secure in their ability to turn to their mothers under stress are less likely to end up feeling overly dependent upon their close friends, and thus less likely to be influenced by their friend’s behavior when its negative.”

A recent study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) illustrated that although adolescent drinking and smoking have gone down in the past few years, sixty-five percent of high school seniors admit to consuming alcohol while nineteen percent of seniors smoke cigarettes. Moreover, marijuana and prescription drug use remain prevalent and steady.

Work to maintain an open relationship with children in order to facilitate freedom of speech. By helping teens understand a different reality than what fellow teenagers present, they’ll be more capable of saying “no” to peer-pressure and making independent decisions.

Review Date: 
December 22, 2011