We wanted to look more carefully at three strategies parents might take to keep their adolescent children out of trouble: (1) maintaining close relationships with children, (2) setting strict limits on children's activities and friendships, and (3) trying to become informed about these activities and friendships. We asked whether each parenting strategy was predictive lower levels of adolescent substance use and minor delinquency one year later.
Our findings indicated that two of these three parenting strategies predicted lower levels of problem behavior. Parents who had close, warm relationships with their children were more knowledgeable about adolescent behavior and friendships. This knowledge, in turn, predicted lower levels of substance use and delinquency. Parental control also predicted fewer problems, and this was true regardless of whether control resulted in parents becoming accurately informed of their children's activities and friendships. Parents' efforts to monitor children's behavior were linked with less involvement in problem behavior, but did not predict changes in such behavior over time.
Our findings are not inconsistent with those reported by same previous research, but instead emphasize the important role of parents in deterring adolescents from involvement in substance use and delinquent behavior. Parents, researchers, and practitioners alike would do well to note that parental control in particular is a strong predictor of whether adolescents will have the opportunity and inclination to involve themselves in behaviors deemed inappropriate by their parents. Sometimes, warmth is not enough.
Summarized from Child Development, Vol. 75, Issue 3, Parental Influences on Adolescent Problem Behavior: Revisiting Stattin and Kerr by A. C. Fletcher, L. Steinberg, and M. Wheeler-Williams. Copyright 2004 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.