The role of the parent in adolescent substance use

Janet F. Williams, Rosalinda Strano Burton, Suyen Schneegans Warzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The overall goal of adolescent development is personal emancipation through individuation. The parent is considered an adolescent’s most powerful formative influence and role model regarding health attitudes, behavioral norms, and social boundaries. For adolescents, engaging in risk-taking behaviors can be a normal maturational “rewarding” response or a strategy to cope with perceived stress and express emotions. Effective stress management is an important skill set for the developing adolescent who may experiment with a range of unhealthy strategies for coping or personal expression despite their high potential for hazardous consequences. Parenting the adolescent poses the immense challenge of promoting the adolescent’s development of life skills while enabling stimulating healthy opportunities during a time of increased access and vulnerability to risky choices, including substance use. Effective parenting includes consistency, communication, respect and safety-based boundaries as well as monitoring the adolescents’ friends and activities, particularly media use. Not only are parents important in deterring, suspecting, and at times detecting their adolescents’ substance use, they can facilitate the evaluation or interventions that may be needed to stop substance use, start recovery, and sustain it. The role of parents is to guide adolescents in developing strengths and resilience, and fulfilling their fullest life potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e237-e241
JournalPediatric annals
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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