If You’re a Strict Parent, Your Kid Is More Likely to Smoke Pot

Jun 14, 2014

By Melissa Hellmann


Overbearing parents may be putting their children at a greater risk of using drugs

A study conducted in six European countries reveals that children who have strict parents are more likely to smoke cannabis, as well as use tobacco and alcohol. The team, led by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention, observed the relationships between parents and their children in Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the U.K., Slovenia and Portugal to determine what parenting style best prevents drug usage.

Over 7,000 adolescents between 11 and 19 years old were asked if their parents had a more controlling or lenient parental style. The study found that parents who reasoned with their children were most effective in persuading their kids to abstain from drugs.

9 comments on “If You’re a Strict Parent, Your Kid Is More Likely to Smoke Pot

  • I think this sort of observation has been expressed so often that it has almost become a truism. Isn’t there a Chinese proverb to the effect that bamboo is able to withstand a hurricane because of its ability to bend? Most teachers would attest to the fact that kids from families with an inflexible, punishment based structure are more likely to be difficult.

    It comes as no surprise that findings support the link with a greater propensity to dabble into mood altering substances.

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    NearlyNakedApe says:

    This study is bunk. It is based on the premise that parenting style has everything to do with drug consumption in teenagers. They don’t factor in peer pressure and the need to fit in which are IMO way more powerful motivators for kids that age. Another strong motivator: plain old curiosity.

    Another flaw in the study: they asked the kids on how strict their parents are. One is quite liable to get inaccurate, wildly exaggerated accounts on this front since by its very nature, puberty is a period of rebellion against authority for most adolescents. A more serious study would have interviewed the parents as well.

    This is just another one of those typical useless studies with a group of people trying to gather evidence to support their predetermined conclusions. Nothing to do with science. You could just as easily come to the same conclusion about parents who are too permissive (which BTW is far more the norm nowadays than the opposite).

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  • This kind of self-report is lopsided because it assumes the kids don’t have motivations for reporting dishonestly. A kid caught smoking might claim their parents are overbearing, thus painting themselves as victims looking to vent frustration.

    It also jumps the gun of causation. Maybe their kids’ illegal activities cause parents to crack down on them in response, or poor income causes both stressed and overbearing adults, and stressed and substance-taking kids trying to escape from their problems. It doesn’t demonstrate anything with rigour.

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  • You’re making a lot of assumptions and errors here. They didn’t say it had “everything to do with drug consumption.” Their study is about parental factors, and their results basically stated that direct control seems to be the worst style of parenting, and that their results were consistent in every country that was utilized for the study. Given that drugs are often used as an escape mechanism, it does make sense.

    You’re also begging some questions here: why do some kids give into peer pressure, and others don’t? They commented on how good parenting raises self-esteem, and I would wager that that’s a strong indicator as to whether someone will go with the crowd, or not.

    Unfortunately, access to the full article requires purchase, so it’s really hard to make a real call on anything without the full details.

    I do think the article touched a nerve with you though, so it was instantly dismissed in your mind, since it didn’t support your “predetermined conclusions”. 🙂

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  • A sample size of 7000 is quite large. I see your point that using a method of self reporting to establish parenting style is far from ideal. Having the parents report on their own method of parenting would also be suspect I think, as they would have in mind a “perfect” way of child rearing and would probably state that as their method, whether or not that was the case. Perhaps the students should fill in a non specific survey designed to detect their experience in an indirect way.

    In my experience I’ve often found that parents claim to be very strict ( especially those with hard-line religious views) but are in fact quite accommodating to their kids needs and wishes. What they mean in many cases is that other parents should be strict but their kids are perfect so the rules need not apply.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been trying to think of real life examples after reading your post, and I actually can’t think of any cases in which children from uber-strict families have been the first to rush out and experiment with drugs. I shouldn’t draw any conclusions from this, but it thought I’d throw it in for good measure.

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  • I was wondering if they’d controlled for income. It seems not as there’s no mention of it in the paper. The article could just as well have been entitled “adolescent drug users tend to perceive their parents as controlling”. Still, interesting research, just not very conclusive by itself.

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