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How Parenting Affects Adolescent Health



According to a study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, most adolescents really value their parents' opinions for decision making. But one in four reported feeling unable to talk to their mothers and nearly half felt unable to talk to their fathers because of a lacking sense that their parents cared about them. This study showed that these feelings among adolescents can cause a whole host of problems during this developmental period. "Perceiving low parental communication and caring were associated with unhealthy weight control, substance use, suicide attempts, body dissatisfaction, depression, and low self-esteem."


Fifteen percent of Olathe teens said their parents' rules on substances were unclear. And if a teen doesn't feel like they can talk to their parents there probably isn't a whole lot of communicating going on. This certainly doesn't make it any easier to outline your expectations with them about things like drugs and alcohol, which can have a significant impact on your child's relationship with substances.



Another study from the National Institutes of Health shows that your style of parenting can also play a large role in your child's current or future substance use. "Authoritative" parents that show high warmth towards their children while also providing appropriate amounts of structure showed the lowest levels of substance use among adolescents across the board. This study also showed the importance of your child's friends' parents being authoritative. Adolescents whose friends' parents were authoritative showed an average of a 40 percent decrease in the likelihood of problematic substance use such as excessive drinking, smoking cigarettes and using marijuana.


Clearly there's a balance between too controlling and too carefree, smothering and neglecting. No amount of research can tell you how to be the perfect parent. But clearly expressing your expectations and showing your support to your child can go a long way to ensure that they have a healthy future.

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