Parenting Styles and Teen Addiction

If you are a parent, do you sometimes wonder how your parenting style has affected your children positively and negatively? Or, more specifically, when you find out about your child’s substance use, do you wonder if there is a relationship between your parenting and this child’s choice?

Researchers have found that parenting style is closely related to a child’s development, mental health, and even risk for substance use. The family is a system and an institution. Parents play a formative role in how the system works. Understanding this can help you assess and improve.

Main Types of Parenting Styles

We all raise children differently. Depending on communication, nurturing, expectations, and discipline style, parenting may fall into four main types. 

First, authoritarian parenting refers to parental behaviors that are controlling and disciplinarian at home. They are often very strict, with little room for negotiation. Communication between parent and child is usually a one-way street, with the parent giving commands. There is less nurturing and emotional bonding. Expectations are high, and the home tends to see more physical and emotional abuse, which are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

On the other end of the spectrum is neglectful or uninvolved parenting. Children are given maximum freedom, and parents want to stay out of the way. Both nurturing and communication are limited, and parents have little or no expectation of children. There is no particular discipline style used in the home.

Between these two ends of the continuum are two other types: permissive and authoritative parenting. In permissive parenting, parents behave like friends to their children, offering limited guidance. Communication is open, and children have the freedom to make their own decisions. There can be warmth and nurturing. Expectations are fluid, usually not set by the parents. Discipline does not happen a lot. 

In authoritative parenting, communication is frequent and two-way. There is nurturing and emotional bonding. Expectations are high, but children may have input into their goals. Disciplinary rules are clearly spelled out and used.

It turns out that authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles are positively related to a higher risk of substance use. In comparison, the other two types (authoritative and permissive parenting) tend to bring lower risk. These findings can be generalized into one overarching principle for parents: They should not tightly control everything, nor should there be neglect and lack of affection.

Factors Other Than Parenting Styles

Parenting style is not the determinant of youth substance use; there are many other factors at work. For example, parental history of substance use (or lack of sober adult role models in the home) also affects the risk of children developing substance use habits during adolescence. Early exposure to substance use by other family members or caregivers can also increase the risk.

Educators and a child’s peer group may play an increasingly larger role among teens and adolescents. This time is when parental authority wanes and external influences rise. For example, a teacher’s style of instructing and working with students may also influence a child’s development and mental health conditions. Another key risk factor is whether a child’s peer group has bullying practices or glorifies substance use.

Parental Support Is Never Late and Always Necessary

No matter what your assessment is and how your child is doing, teens and adolescents always need parental support. Even the best parenting style with the most consistency does not guarantee success in raising healthy and happy teenagers. Parenting is not an exact science, and we cannot control all variables in a teenager’s life. There will be peer pressure, conflicts, and even trauma, but what parents can offer to do is just be there for them.

Connecting with your child in an emotional way is important. Maybe you have not done that so often for various reasons in the past, but it is never late to try and start anew. Spend more quality time with your teen child. Try to understand and enter their emotional world. Listen to their worries, anxieties, and regrets. A listening parent is the best therapist for your child. Some parents may not be expressive in forming an emotional connection, but your teenage child can see the efforts you put into trying, and that alone can impact the bond between you two.

Working With Professionals to Bridge the Gap

There can be communication gaps between a parent and child, especially when substance use is involved. The key is to initiate non-confrontational, two-way communication with your child. 

Understandably, you can feel emotionally charged when starting a conversation. It may help you get parent coaching with a professional interventionist before initiating a conversation with your child about their substance use. You may have many questions you want someone to answer regarding teen addiction. After you are better informed and have reasonable knowledge, you will be able to engage in calmer conversations.

Professional interventionists can also do the heavy lifting for you. They can act as a bridge between you and your child struggling with substance use. They understand how teens and adolescents behave in this situation and know the best practices and strategies that have been proven to work.

Do you know that authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles may increase a child's risk of mental illness and substance addiction? Are you unsure about how to best communicate with your teen child on the topic of substance use? Many parents engage in confrontational and counterproductive clashes with their adolescents over this situation. With more education and preparation, you can better help your child. There are professional interventionists who work with parents and youth toward the goal of recovery. At South Florida Intervention, our trained interventionists have helped many parents and youth recover. We can connect you with trusted health professionals who have plenty of experience in this area. Apart from recovery coaching and parent coaching, we offer detailed case management. We can also provide a sober escort service for people in early sobriety. With our support, your child will have an excellent chance of achieving long-term sobriety. Call us at (202) 390-2273 today.