A new study finds that when it comes to drinking and smoking, teens are influenced not only by their parents and friends, but by their friends' parents as well.
In a new study published October 8, teens who had friends whose mothers were authoritative -- strict but still warm -- were much less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use marijuana than those teens whose friends' parents were lacking in warmth and control. In numbers, the teens were 40 percent less likely to drink, 38 percent less likely to binge drink, 39 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 43 percent less likely to use pot.
Lead study author Holly Shakya, a public health researcher with the University of California San Diego and Harvard University, and her team examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which is an ongoing study on teen behavior in the US. In addition to analyzing the teens' social networks and behaviors, the researchers also classified parenting styles into three groups: authoritative (warm, communicative but in control), authoritarian (in control, but lacking warmth), and permissive (warm, but lacking control).
The report is published online in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
While all this extra influence may seem overwhelming to parents, Bruce Goldman, director of Substance Abuse Services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, told HealthDay that the study's results should be encouraging to parents "who sometimes feel out of control and that they have no influence at all -- in fact, that's not true."
He adds, "We may need to change the concept of parenting to include the indirect effects of the adolescent's friends' parents." Goldman also added that troubled teens "often seek out other teens who come from stable homes," which is a good tendency in that it can help reel in negative behaviors.
LiveScience adds that prior research has shown that "authoritative parents tend to have kids with greater academic success, more positive peer relationships, fewer delinquent and risky behaviors, and higher levels of psychological well-being."