How much influence do parental attitudes and role modeling have on teenage drinking and other drug use?

Teen angry with parents

By Melissa McWilliams

A lot of influence!  I was reminded of this the other day when I was in the kitchen cooking with my 1-year-old daughter.  I was making cookies and did the obligatory licking off of the spatula.  She was watching me, and pointed at the spatula, indicating she wanted to hold it.  She then put it in her mouth and starting to lick it.  She had never done this before!  Up until she saw me put the spatula in my mouth and lick off the yummy remainders, she had no idea what a spatula was and what it was capable of doing.  You parents of teenagers, think back to these more innocent days when your child started to mimic what you did.  Although abstract thinking has not developed in your children at this point in life, things really haven’t changed.  Teens model what their parents do – how they fight, how they love, how they forgive, how they treat waiters and waitresses, how they treat other drivers …. You get the point.  You do have an impact.  You do influence. Even in the teenage years.

Don't Give Up On Your Teen

Parents often feel they have lost this during the teen years, as teens have a tendency to do what they want to do regardless of guidance.  Because of this, parents give up.  But this is a cop-out …an excuse to not work hard at parenting.   I get it.  You’ve been with this child for 13+ years already, and they have skills that fool you into thinking they can make it on their own.  “They don’t need me now,” you tell yourself, “they’re going to do whatever they want anyway.” Or maybe you’re just tired as parents.   “Doesn’t it get easier now?” “Shouldn’t it get easier now – I have earned it!” you think to yourself.  No, it doesn’t.  You have until 18 years of age to legally continuing influencing this child.  Finish strong!  

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