A Healthy Start: Some Parenting Practices May Protect Youth From Early Marijuana Use

Parenting practices during the middle years of elementary school, such as supervision and monitoring, may affect adolescent initiation of marijuana use, according to a new NIDA-supported study conducted by Dr. Chuan-Yu Chen and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The scientists followed 1,222 youth from elementary school through young adulthood to determine if early parenting practices protect youth from early onset of marijuana use.  The researchers measured three dimensions of parenting-parental monitoring, parental involvement/reinforcement, and coercive parental discipline parenting (attempts to correct child behavior by using serious threats such as physical and nonphysical punishment)-as well as opportunity to first try marijuana.

The scientists found that children with the lowest levels of parental monitoring and parental involvement/reinforcement were almost 30 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when compared with the most highly monitored children.  Similarly, children with higher levels of coercive discipline were more likely to try the drug for the first time. Overall, the scientists observed a delay and reduction in the opportunity to first try marijuana among children with the highest levels of parental involvement/reinforcement, which lasted through early adulthood.
• WHAT IT MEANS: Numerous studies have documented associations between parenting practices and an array of health-compromising behaviors in adolescents. The results of this study expand upon existing evidence and suggest that parenting practices such as early increased monitoring and supervision may have lasting effects by reducing and delaying marijuana use through young adulthood. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of parental practices in preventing and delaying adolescent drug use.

Source:   Pediatrics. June 2005 issue

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