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Parenting teen children is no easy task.

Parental advice and admonishments seem to fall on deaf ears of know-better teens and you can’t help wondering if anything you say or do has much impact on a child who is determined to go her own way!

So what can a parent do to prevent drug and alcohol use and abuse?

Thankfully, though it may seem hard to believe, the experts say that teens are listening a lot more than we may believe and that there are certain parenting strategies that can increase the harmony and satisfaction of the household as they reduce the likelihood that your teen will get into trouble with things like drugs or alcohol.

According to a whole lot of research, to keep your child safe:

  1. Be an authoritative parent
  2. Know what your kids are up to

First of all then, how can you be an authoritarian parent?

The Four Parenting Styles

The four major parenting styles are:

  1. Permissive (Indulgent)
  2. Authoritarian
  3. Neglectful
  4. Authoritative (democratic)

Permissive parents are high on love and affection but low on monitoring and limits and discipline. Permissive parents set few rules or expectations for standards of behavior and rarely discipline effectively.

Authoritarian parents are high on discipline and limits but low on affection and displays of love. Authoritarian parents give orders and do not expect or respond to questioning of those commands.

Neglectful parents are low on love and affection and on limits and discipline. Parental substance abuse can result in parental neglect.

Authoritative parents are sometimes called ‘democratic’ parents, for though the final decisions are the parents to call, all family members are seen as stakeholders who deserve to have input in the decision making process and whose wants and needs merit respect. Authoritative parents are high on both love and affection and on setting appropriate limits and positive discipline.

Effective communication is an important aspect of an authoritative parenting style. Rules and expectations are clearly explained to children and questioning of rules and expectations is met with explanations, rather than - “because I said so!” Authoritative parents also give their teen children room to grow into psychologically autonomous adults by accepting differing and evolving beliefs and opinions, even those that may, from time to time, conflict with the opinions and beliefs of the family as a whole.

Authoritative Parents Are Most Likely to Have Kids that Don’t Get into Trouble with Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps unsurprisingly, teens in families with authoritative parents are less likely than teens from other types of households to get into trouble with drugs or alcohol. Some research results which prove this point include:

  • A study of American middle and high school students which revealed that parents using authoritative parenting techniques were most likely to also engage in techniques proven to reduce the odds of teen drug and alcohol abuse, such as talking about drugs and communicating the family’s expectations about abstinence and high levels of parental monitoring.1
  • A Bingham Young University Binge Drinking Study of 5000 - 12 to 19 year old Americans revealed that kids from authoritative households were half as likely as teens from authoritarian households to binge drink. Teens from households with indulgent parents who were low in discipline and accountability but high on warmth were more than three times as likely to drink as teens from authoritative households. 2
  • Researchers studying children from grade 3 to 8 found that children from authoritative homes scored highest on measures of general competency and lowest on intention to smoke and on actual experimentation with tobacco. 3
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Page last updated Jan 19, 2011

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