According to an American study published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal, parents' behavior can have an impact on their teens' attraction to drugs.
This new study could reassure and encourage parents who are worried about their teenager getting involved with alcohol and drugs. Parental behavior is thought to be key in terms of how tempted young adults are to use these substances.
The key to preventing this type of behavior in adolescence is thought to come from the quality of the relationship that parents build with their kids from early childhood until pre-adolescence.
The main ingredients required are openness, communication, respect and understanding. According to the researchers, the more we take an early interest in our children, the lower the risk that they will associate with deviant peers or people who could offer them drugs.
Thomas Schofield, the study's lead author, and his colleagues Rand Conger and Richard Robins at the University of California, Davis, observed the interactions between Mexican origin parents and their children to measure the degree and effects of parental control.
They concentrated on Mexican origin families to better understand if cultural differences were influencing parental behavior and outcomes.
Schofield said that another reason for this choice was the greater risk in this community of using drugs and alcohol early and misusing them over time.
The study followed up on 674 children at age 10 and 12. The researchers observed the relationship with the mother and the father separately. They also controlled for child temperament and cultural beliefs.
Schofield said the findings suggest that more than genetics is at play, and that the parents can make a difference by influencing the behavior of their child.
On a related subject, an additional study undertaken by Schofield and his colleague Jennifer Weaver of Boise State University, shows that it is important that the parents share the same beliefs on parenting, bearing in mind that one can change the views of the other.
Schofield says that one parent's ability to influence their spouse exists when they have a good relationship, and that parents should use this to their advantage when bringing up their child.