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Study: Rules improve parent-child relationship


February 21, 2001
Web posted at: 2:22 p.m. EST (1922 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Teens whose parents have established rules in the house have better relationships with their parents and a substantially lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using illegal drugs than the typical teen, a new study shows.

The study was released Wednesday by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. The findings were part of its sixth annual national teen substance abuse survey.

The study evaluated a "hands-on" approach versus a "hands-off" approach, and found that only one in four teens lives with "hands-on" parents, but those teens are at one-quarter the risk for drug abuse than those living in "hands-off" households.

Teens living in "hands-on" households have parents who consistently take 10 or more of the following 12 actions:

  • Monitor what their teens watch on TV
  • Monitor what their teens do on the Internet
  • Put restrictions on the CDs they buy
  • Know where their teens are after school and on weekends
  • Are told the truth by their teens about where they really are going
  • Are "very aware" of their teens academic performance
  • Impose a curfew
  • Make clear they would be "extremely upset" if their teen used pot
  • Eat dinner with their teens six or seven nights a week
  • Turn off the TV during dinner
  • Assign their teen regular chores, and
  • Have an adult present when the teens return home from school

The survey found that despite conventional wisdom that many teens don't want their parents to establish rules and expectations, 47 percent of teens living in "hands-on" households reported having an excellent relationship with their fathers and 57 percent reported and excellent relationship with their mothers.

Only 13 percent of teens with "hands-off" parents reported an excellent relationship with their fathers and 24 percent reported an excellent relationship with their mothers.

"Moms and dads should be parents to their children, not pals," said CASA's president, former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. "Mothers and fathers who are parents rather than pals can greatly reduce the risk of their children smoking, drinking and using drugs."

For the sixth straight year, teens said drugs were their greatest concern. Teens said it is easier to buy marijuana than cigarettes. According to the survey, fewer teens said they expected to "never try" an illegal drug.

Asked what their biggest concern was, CASA reported, 31 percent of teens said, "drugs can ruin you life and cause harm." Seventeen percent said "I feel pressure to use drugs."

This year's survey was also the first to ask teens about their proximity to Ecstasy. Of surveyed teens, 28 percent said they know a friend or classmate who has used the drug. Ten percent said they had been to a rave and said Ecstasy was available 70 percent of the time.

The survey looked at 1,000 American teens, 526 girls and 474 boys between the age of 12 and 17.

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Center On Addiction and Substance Abuse
Office of National Drug Control Policy
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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