New research shows that teens who are able to express themselves to their moms are better able to resist peer pressure and say no to drugs and alcohol.
The findings appear in Allen J.P. Child Development, 2011
Researchers interviewed more than 150 teens and their parents about substance use and abuse, daily interactions, and relationships with friends. The teens who were able to hold their own in discussions with their moms particularly about grades, money, rules, and friends were better prepared to stand up to their peers, the study showed.
“Parents who can have the right kind of discussions with their kids are setting their children up to handle peer influences,” says study author Dave Szwedo. He is a doctoral student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
What are the right kinds of discussions? “They are calm and reasonable,” he says. “They are not based on shouting or whining. They allow kids a chance to be heard.”
The findings make sense to says Gail Saltz, MD, a New York City-based psychiatrist who has teen daughters. “The mother-daughter relationship is a template for a lot of future relationships and how to manage them,” she says.
Adolescence is the time of finding your own identity. “Disagreement is part of this gig, and some parents and kids deal with this better than others,” Saltz says.
Home needs to be a place where teens can process emotions -- pain, disappointment, and anxiety -- in a healthy way, if they can’t, they may turn toward drugs and alcohol or be more susceptible to peer pressure.