Academic journal article Fathering

Fathers Do Make a Difference: Parental Involvement and Adolescent Alcohol Use

Academic journal article Fathering

Fathers Do Make a Difference: Parental Involvement and Adolescent Alcohol Use

Article excerpt

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 9,148), we examined the relationship between dimensions of parent-child involvement (shared communication, shared activity participation, and emotional closeness) and three adolescent alcohol outcomes (alcohol use, alcohol related problems, and risky behavior co-occurring with alcohol use). This paper addresses previous limitations in fathering research by investigating both paternal and maternal involvement in understanding adolescent alcohol outcomes. When analyzed simultaneously, both shared communication with fathers and emotional closeness to fathers, but not shared activity participation, had a unique impact on each alcohol outcome, above and beyond maternal involvement factors. Implications for theory and research on parental involvement are discussed.

Keywords: father involvement, adolescents, alcohol use

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Research on father involvement continues to grow (Cassano, Adrian, Veits, & Zeman, 2006) and demonstrates that fathers play an important role in the development of their children. Adolescent behavior problems are affected by varying levels of father involvement (Lamb & Tamis-Lemonda, 2004). For example, involved fathers have children who engage in less antisocial behavior (Flouri & Buchanan, 2002) and close parent-adolescent relationships are a protective factor in the development of delinquent behavior (Harris, Furstenberg, & Marmer, 1998). In understanding individual differences in adolescent behavior problems, it is however not clear (a) whether some dimensions of father involvement are more important than others and (b) whether paternal involvement is still important after controlling for the role of maternal involvement. In particular, understanding whether various aspects of father involvement uniquely predict adolescent behavior problems above and beyond maternal involvement is important for further conceptualizing father involvement and building empirically informed conceptual models of fathering and adolescent behavior problems (Amato & Gilbreth, 1999; Lamb, 2004).

The current study aims to investigate the unique role of various aspects of both paternal and maternal involvement in the development of adolescent alcohol use (Cabrera, Tamis-LeMonda, Bradley, Hofferth, & Lamb, 2000). Sixty-eight percent of high school seniors report experimentation with alcohol (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2006a) and alcohol experimentation may increase engagement in risky behaviors and problems related to alcohol use (Lane, Cherek, Rhodes, Pietras, & Tcheremissine, 2003). These co-occurring risky behaviors include increased rates of injuries (Spirito, Jelalian, Rasile, Rohrbeck, & Vinnick, 2000), criminal activity and delinquency (Ensor & Godfrey, 1993; Milgram, 1993), and reduced self-control (Abrams & Wilson, 1983). Understanding the role of both fathers and mothers in adolescent alcohol use may prove valuable for prevention and intervention efforts to reduce adolescent drinking (Komro, Stigler, & Perry, 2006).

Parental Involvement

Empirical findings demonstrate that several parental factors are related to alcohol use, alcohol related problems and co-occurring risky behaviors. Greater quantities and qualities of father involvement and support reduce adolescent problem behavior, such as polydrug use, delinquency, and violent behavior (Zimmerman, Salem, & Notaro, 2000). Across age, gender, and ethnicities, higher levels of parental supervision are associated with less adolescent alcohol use (Pilgrim, Schulenberg, O'Malley, Bachman, & Johnston, 2006). An adolescent's inability to relate or securely attach to his/her father predicts increased adolescent alcohol use (Jones & Benda, 2004). Parental over-involvement and control operate as risk factors for excessive alcohol use (Dishion & Loeber, 1985; Jessor, 1987), whereas involved and supportive parenting is related to lower alcohol use (e. …

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