Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Thai Parenting Practices, Family Rituals and Risky Adolescent Behaviors: Alcohol Use, Cigarette Use and Delinquency

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Thai Parenting Practices, Family Rituals and Risky Adolescent Behaviors: Alcohol Use, Cigarette Use and Delinquency

Article excerpt

Introduction

In Thailand families are migrating out of rural areas to cities and the stresses of urban life, influences of international tourists, and less availability of extended families create conditions that may negatively impact the ability to parent (1). In contrast, many western countries have experienced the transition to an industrialized state over more years, allowing parents and families time to adjust more slowly. Parenting and family practices that evolve gradually over time, may allow better responses to the demands created by the historical and developmental events within the country. However, when changes occur more rapidly, families may have more difficulty in adjusting.

Understanding parent practices in Thailand requires understanding cultural influences that can provide support and protection to youth. For example, religious beliefs and traditions are important components of Thai family life that, may be impacted (1). Families are less integrated in their neighborhoods as urban lifestyles are more varied and less closely knit than rural communities. Urban life is more influenced by western influences. Family dynamics that have characterized the Thai culture have been impacted by these urban strains. Traditionally, hierarchical relationships characterized families but this is changing (1). There exists a tension between traditional cultural values and the changes evolving in modern society.

Parents recognize the increased pressure on adolescents to engage in risky behaviors such as substance use (alcohol, cigarettes) and delinquent behaviors. Concern over substance use among adolescents in Thailand appears to be increasing as a result of recent indications of increases based upon reports from adolescents sampled from 8 secondary schools and 13 communities in Bangkok (2). The study estimated that 37% of Bangkok adolescents (mean age 15.5 years) overall have ever used alcohol, with 56.1% being classified as frequent drinkers. An increase in weekly and daily alcohol use among Thai secondary school students has also been reported (3). In addition, smoking rates have been reported as 11.6% in a school sample and 24.8% in a community sample of Bangkok adolescents (2). Researchers have called for effective programs for Thai adolescents out of concern about high usage rates (4).

Delinquency is also a concern. Among male and female youth surveyed in Bangkok, Thailand from 8 schools and 13 communities, 7.9% of the school sample and 11.2% of the community sample had carried a weapon and 29.8% of the school sample and 35.7% of the community sample had engaged in fighting (2). A total of 2.9% of the school sample and 2.6% of the community sample reported driving after drinking alcohol.

Prior research suggests that family processes and structures are particularly important for preventing the initiation of substance use (alcohol, cigarette, and other drugs) and for decreasing later misuse of substances in adolescents (5). Families play a key role in adolescent problem behavior through their role in the socialization of children to adapt to demands in their social context (5).

Parental monitoring includes tracking behaviors that regulate and provide awareness of a child's whereabouts, conduct, activities and companions (6). Low levels of parental monitoring are associated with high levels of youth problem behaviors in the U.S. (e.g., (7)). There is reason to believe that monitoring may function in a similar fashion in Thailand. Relationships between monitoring and substance use and monitoring and delinquency have been broadly discussed across ethnicities and socioeconomic groups (7).

Parenting style can either contribute to, or prevent adolescent risks such as substance use and delinquency. Authoritative parenting style, characterized by high levels of parental control, as well as high levels of warmth/responsiveness, protects adolescents against both substance use and delinquency as compared to adolescents raised in nonauthoritative families(8). …

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