Adolescence is a time when many children may consider experimenting with alcohol or drugs. A new research shows parents can reduce that risk by maintaining a healthy and open relationship with their children.
“Adolescents are more likely to drink or use drugs if they hang out with deviant friends or if they actively seek out peers to facilitate substance use,” said study’s lead author Thomas Schofield from Iowa State University in the US.
“Parents who know what’s going on with their children and their friends can minimize the impact of both pathways,” Schofield added.
Nearly 675 children were included in the study.
Researchers observed mothers and fathers separately as they interacted with their children in fifth grade and again in seventh grade.
Their data shows that for many, this age range is a starting point or baseline for alcohol, tobacco and drug use. It’s also a time when parents may be caught off guard by changes in their child’s behaviour, if they don’t have a strong foundation established, Schofield said.
He added: “Preadolescence and early adolescence is not a particularly risky time; it’s just the best time to get kids on board with collaborating, communicating with their parents and creating that relationship earlier.”
This indicates that more than genetics is at play, and parents can make a difference in influencing their child’s behaviour, Schofield said.