Which Parenting Style Works Best for Deterring Teens from Doing Drugs?
If you type the phrase “books on parenting” into a search engine, you will get approximately one zillion entries, each with a slightly different approach to raising your children. But what if all you are looking for is a little advice on how to discourage your teenagers from experimenting with drugs or alcohol?
The Four General Parenting Styles
There has been some research conducted on the type of parenting “style” that is ideal for accomplishing this goal. Many social scientists call upon the work of psychologists Diana Baumrind, Eleanor Maccoby, and John A. Martin who created what are known today as the four parenting styles:
||High discipline and control||Low discipline and control|
|High warmth and responsiveness||Authoritative||Permissive|
|Low warmth and responsiveness||Authoritarian||Uninvolved|
Here is the breakdown of the four styles:
Uninvolved parents: those who exert little discipline and control, and exhibit little warmth or responsiveness to their children’s needs
Permissive parents: those who exert little discipline and control, but exhibit lots of warmth or responsiveness to their children’s needs
Authoritarian parents: those who exert lots of discipline and control, but exhibit little warmth or responsiveness to their children’s needs
Authoritative parents: those who exert lots of discipline and control, and exhibit lots of warmth or responsiveness to their children’s needs
[Note the difference between authoritative and authoritarian, despite the word similarities]
When it comes to protecting kids against substance abuse, research indicates that the authoritative parenting style is correlated with the best outcomes. In other words, teens whose parents practice high levels of discipline but also demonstrate warmth and respond to the needs of their children are less likely to succumb to the temptations of alcohol and drugs than their peers.
How to Be an “Authoritative” Parent
It is important to note that “high levels of discipline and control” does not mean maintaining an exceedingly strict household nor implementing draconian oversight of your teens’ schedule and whereabouts. Instead, parents should simply establish clear rules of behavior (such as no drinking in the house), articulate specific expectations (such as not doing drugs at a party, even if other kids are), and spell out the consequences for violations (such as loss of driving privileges for a month).
In addition, parents should strive to develop a strong relationship with their teenagers. This means taking an interest in their activities, praising and encouraging them when appropriate, and carving out some individual time together.
In doing so, it is vital that parents encourage open communication with their kids and frequently foster conversations about issues and topics that are relevant to them. Of course, establishing this type of connection requires listening to what teens have to say, controlling your emotions, and resisting the urge to lecture them or win an argument.
Should Parents Share Their Own Teen Experiences?
Finally, many parents grapple with the question of whether to discuss their own inappropriate behaviors during their teenage years with their kids. The answer is different for every parent and depends primarily on how comfortable (or uncomfortable) such a conversation would be for them. Parents could use their own experiences as lessons or cautionary tales for their kids, or stress the differences between modern-day ramifications of drinking or doing drugs and the consequences of such behaviors a generation ago.
In short, building healthy relationships with your teens while establishing firm but fair rules in your household can go a long way toward keeping your teens away from drugs and alcohol. They may not admit it often, but most teens do listen to their parents and follow the examples that are set by their mothers and fathers. A durable parent-teen bond can sometimes mean the difference between a happy adolescence and a challenging life plagued by teen addiction.
Despite your best efforts on behalf of your children, sometimes a teen may still become addicted to drugs or alcohol. If that is the case with your teen, contact us today to see how we can help.