It's time for that heart to heart with your kids about the dangers of smoking, drinking or illicit drugs. One thing it's best not to bring up: Your own using of such substances in your youth, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign surveyed 561 middle school students on talks they had had with their parents about drinking, smoking and marijuana. They found that the kids were less likely to think drugs were bad if their parents had shared stories of past substance use with them. Kids whose parents simply drove home an anti-drug message without revealing their own indiscretions were more likely to avoid them.
Previous research found that teens said they were less likely to use drugs if their parents told them about their own past drug use. But this new study found that children whose parents talked to them about the negative effects of or regret over their use of alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana were less likely to oppose the use of these substances.
The researchers said their findings suggest that there may be unintended consequences for children when their parents share their history of past substance use, even if it is meant as a warning.
The study, published online recently in the journal Human Communication Research, did identify specific ways that parents can talk to children to discourage them from using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
This includes telling children about the harm caused by these substances, how to avoid them and stories about others who have gotten into trouble from using them. Parents can also tell children that they disapprove of substance use and outline family rules against substance use.
If you are going to try to explain to your children about the dangers of using illegal drugs. You must also inform them about the consequences of the action of using.
It is more than just explaining to them that you have used drugs, alcohol, or tobacco before. You must also show them how it will affect them if they make the choice to use those substances.
"Of course, it is important to remember this study is one of the first to examine the associations between parents' references to their own past substance use and their adolescent children's subsequent perceptions and behaviors," she added.