Parents looking to keep their kids from experimenting with tobacco, drugs and alcohol should avoid mention of their own past drug use, according to a new study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study, which examined the associations between parents’ references to their own past substance use and their adolescent children’s subsequent perceptions and behaviors, found that “Latino and European American children who reported that their parents talked about the negative consequences, or regret, over their own past substance use were actually less likely to report anti-substance-use perceptions.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The recent study does not simply confound parents who thought being honest with their children was the best policy. Instead, it identifies specific messages that parents can relay to their children about the dangers of substance abuse which may encourage anti-substance perceptions. “For example, parents may talk to their kids about the negative consequences of using substances, how to avoid substances, that they disapprove of substance use, the family rules against substance use, and stories about others who have gotten in trouble from using substances.”