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Teens Prefer to Talk to Mom About Drugs

Study Shows Most Teens Talk to Mothers About Alcohol, Drugs

When it comes to talks about serious subjects such as taking drugs, U.S. teens apparently believe that mother knows best, a Penn State expert says.

"Seventy percent of the adolescents in my study stated that they were more comfortable discussing important topics with their mothers," notes Dr. Michelle A. Miller-Day, assistant professor of communication arts and sciences in Penn State's College of Liberal Arts.

Only 12 Percent Preferred Fathers

"This contrasted with 12 percent of the respondents who favored talking with their fathers, 7.4 percent who preferred their grandparents, 7.4 percent who went to siblings, and 3 percent who preferred talking with other extended family members. Neither race nor gender had any significant impact on the overall tendency of teenagers to confide in their mothers."

Miller-Day published her findings in the paper, "Parent-Adolescent Communication about Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use," which appeared recently in the Journal of Adolescent Research.

Her study was based on a survey of 67 African-American and White teen-agers ranging in age from 11 to 17. They were queried about conversations with their parents regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD), as well as incidents over the past two years in which they were offered illicit drugs but refused to take them.

Talking With Peers

"Out of 67 respondents in my study, 29 adolescents indicated they had talked about the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drug with a parent. The same number reported they had communicated solely with friends and classmates about drug use. My results suggest that teenagers who talked with a parent about drugs were significantly more likely to extend that talk into their peer groups," Miller-Day says.

"Given that adolescents may choose to talk with mothers rather than anyone else about risky issues and that they feel closer to their mothers, mothers may be logical targets for drug education and intervention programs," she adds.

Her study also noted that young people are much more impressed by the continuing lifestyle examples set by their parents and "normalizing" drug talks by integrating them into normal family routines than by the one sit-down "drug talk" advocated by the contemporary media.

Source: Penn State News Release

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