When children are still in elementary school, close supervision and monitoring by parents can prevent them from later making a decision in their teens to try marijuana.
Mothers in particular, who keep close tabs on their elementary school students play a large role in the decisions they will make in middle school and beyond.
It is important to delay first use of drugs and alcohol as long as possible, because research shows that the earlier children begin to become involved in substance abuse, the more problems they will have as young adults and later in adulthood.
The earlier they start, the more likely they will develop serious sbustance abuse problems later.
Parents Play an Important Role
Multiple scientific studies have shown that parents play the most important role in preventing their children from initiating use of drugs and alcohol.
One National Institute on Drug Abuse-supported study found that parenting practices during the middle years of elementary school, such as supervision and monitoring, may affect adolescent initiation of marijuana use.
Dr. Chuan-Yu Chen and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health followed 1,222 youth from elementary school through young adulthood to determine if early parenting practices protect youth from early onset of marijuana use.
Parental Involvement Is the Key
The researchers measured three dimensions of parenting-parental monitoring, parental involvement/reinforcement, and coercive parental discipline parenting (attempts to correct child behavior by using serious threats such as physical and nonphysical punishment)-as well as opportunity to first try marijuana.
The scientists found that children with the lowest levels of parental monitoring and parental involvement/reinforcement were almost 30 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when compared with the most highly monitored children.
Similarly, children with higher levels of coercive discipline were more likely to try the drug for the first time. Overall, the scientists observed a delay and reduction in the opportunity to first try marijuana among children with the highest levels of parental involvement and reinforcement, which lasted through early adulthood.
Good Parenting Has Lasting Effects
Numerous studies have documented associations between parenting practices and an array of health-compromising behaviors in adolescents. The results of this study expand upon existing evidence and suggest that parenting practices such as early increased monitoring and supervision may have lasting effects by reducing and delaying marijuana use through young adulthood.
Additional research is needed to better understand the role of parental practices in preventing and delaying adolescent drug use, Chen said.
Source: Chen CY, et al. "Influences of Parenting Practices on the Risk of Having a Chance to Try Cannabis." Pediatrics VOLUME 115 / ISSUE 6
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