Parenting Styles Increase Children’s Risk of Substance Abuse

How you parent your children can strongly impact whether they use drugs or have a substance abuse problem in the future. Researchers from the European Institute of Studies on Prevention have found that parents’ affection and control levels are large factors in this. In the study, the researchers tested these two variables to determine their impact on children.

The Study’s Findings

The study found that the two “extremes” of parenting did not work efficiently to prevent children from using drugs. The two extremes are overparenting your children by being too strict and controlling, which indicates an authoritarian style of parenting, and underparenting your children by not caring enough about their habits and letting them do what they want. The study found that the democratic, or authoritative, style of parenting worked best to get children to say no to drugs.

The Classification of Parenting Styles

According to Parenting Science, authoritative parenting styles have proven to work the most efficiently in a variety of studies. Children are proven to be better behaved as well as more successful, and struggle less with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Authoritative parenting, first introduced by Diane Baumrind in the 1960s, is a mix of the authoritarian style and the permissive style. It incorporates responsiveness and nurturing, which are characteristic of permissive parenting, and rule enforcement, which is characteristic of authoritarian parenting, Parenting Science explained. The authoritative style creates a balance for children between responsibility and freedom, which is critical when considering drug use.

Getting a Closer Look

The study used close to 1,500 students from Majorca, Spain, aged 11 to 19. The study found that those who thought their parents were permissive or offered too much affection or control were much more likely to use and abuse alcohol, tobacco and other substances. They also found effects on gender, adding that mothers have more control over daughters and fathers have more control over their sons. The study shows how permissive or controlling ways can oppositely affect a parent’s intention, and that gender may play a role as well.

The researchers believe they can use the data collected to create programs that teach methods of prevention for drug use in Europe and beyond. If you believe your children are experimenting with drug use, reach out to them and talk about it using an authoritative style. If you feel your children are abusing drugs and may need help, seek drug counseling.

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