A new report finds that more than 20 percent of parents believe — perhaps wrongly — that they have little influence on whether or not their teen uses drugs, tobacco or alcohol.
In fact, studies have shown that teens do listen to parents; substance use is significantly lower among teens whose believe their parents strongly disapprove of substance use.
The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) discovered one in 10 parents said they did not talk to their teens about the dangers of using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.
That is despite the fact that 68 percent of these parents who had not spoken to their children thought they would influence whether their child uses drugs if they spoke to them.
Despite the significant pessimism, a national survey of teens ages 12 to 17 shows that that teens who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of their substance use were less likely to use substances than other.
For example, current marijuana use was less prevalent among youth who believed their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana once or twice than among youth who did not perceive this level of disapproval (5 percent vs. 32 percent).
“Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde.
“Although most parents are talking with their teens about the risks of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, far too many are missing the vital opportunity these conversations provide in influencing their children’s health and well-being.
“Parents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions.”