Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

The Effects of Parenting on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Misuse: A Six-Wave Latent Growth Model

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

The Effects of Parenting on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Misuse: A Six-Wave Latent Growth Model

Article excerpt

Alcohol use increases throughout adolescence. Based on family socialization theory, it was hypothesized that family factors, particularly parental support and monitoring, would influence individual trajectories in the development of alcohol misuse. Six waves of data were analyzed, based on interviews with 506 adolescents in the general population of a northeastern metropolitan area. Using growth-curve longitudinal analysis, results show that parenting significantly predicts adolescents' initial drinking levels (intercepts) as well as their rates of increase in alcohol misuse

(slope). This study provides evidence that effective parenting is an important factor in preventing alcohol misuse.

Key Words: adolescence, alcohol use, latent growth model, longitudinal study, parenting.

A number of studies confirm that the earlier young people initiate alcohol use and frequent heavy drinking, the more likely they are to have alcoholrelated problems and alcohol dependence in adulthood (e.g., Barnes, Welte, & Dintcheff, 1992; Grant & Dawson, 1997). General population studies also show that the rates of alcohol misuse increase throughout adolescence. For instance, in a 1995 national survey of school students, 8% of the eighth graders reported that they had been drunk one or more times in the most recent 30 days, whereas 21% and 33%, respectively, of tenth and twelfth graders reported being drunk in the previous 30 days (Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 1996). Similarly, in three large representative surveys of New York State secondary school students carried out over the past decade, the percentage of students who reported monthly heavy drinking (i.e., having five or more drinks at one time at least once a month for the past year) increased from 7% and 13%, respectively, among 12- and 13-year-olds to 47% and 50%, respectively, among 17- and 18-year-olds (Barnes, Welte, Hoffman, & Dintcheff, 1997). Aggregate rates from cross-sectional surveys such as these are often used to imply individual changes in alcohol misuse across the adolescent-young adult span of the life cycle. However, to more accurately assess changes in alcohol consumption and to determine the predictors of various developmental trajectories in adolescent alcohol misuse, longitudinal studies are required in which the same respondents are followed over time (i.e., panel studies). Thus, the prevention of alcohol misuse and alcoholism requires an understanding of what factors keep adolescents from initiating alcohol misuse and what factors dampen the spiraling increase in alcohol misuse during adolescence.

Based on family socialization theory, we propose that parenting factors, particularly parental support and monitoring, are critically important influences on individual trajectories in the development of alcohol misuse throughout adolescence.

THEORETICAL MODEL

A large body of theoretical and empirical work shows the importance of parenting and parental socialization to the development of a variety of related adolescent problem behaviors, including alcohol misuse, illicit drug abuse, and delinquency (see Barnes, 1990; Barnes & Farrell, 1992; Farrell & Barnes, 1993).

In a conceptual model of the development of adolescent alcohol misuse, elaborated elsewhere (Barnes, 1990), family socialization is shown as the linkage between individual factors (psychological and biological) and the larger culture (including sociodemographic factors). In this model, children learn social behaviors, including drinking behaviors, during the socialization process by ongoing interactions with significant others-initially with parents and subsequently with adolescent peers, who become increasingly influential during later adolescence. The parent-child relationships are seen as particularly potent and primary, occurring early in development and continuing throughout adolescence. Although there may be some bidirectional effects of parent and adolescent influences, most of the empirical research supports a "social mold" perspective (Peterson & Rollins, 1987) whereby parents exert powerful influences on the development of their children. …

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