Parental attitudes towards substance use impact teens



The Metlife foundation recently sponsored and released a study about teen’s drug and alcohol abuse patterns.  The key finding in this study is that Hispanic teens are forty precent (40%) more likely to abuse drugs/alcohol than their Caucasian and Black peers.  The study attributed two (2) things to this increased likelihood: 1) Hispanic teens are less afraid of drugs than their peers; and, 2) Hispanic parents are less likely to monitor their teens; activities than other parents.  The study goes on to say that its findings place a heavy burden on Hispanic parents to become more engaged with their kids and provides some links aimed at Hispanics about drugs/alcohol.

Now, whether or not this study is right, I think it only makes sense to understand the culture of all teens.  Really, all teens tend towards being heavily influenced by their friends.  Really, belonging is  such a strong need during adolescence that it only makes sense that all parents should be aware of the potential of peer influence and understand their teen’s behavior.  However, to make an implication that Hispanic parents need to do a better job than Caucasian or Black parents almost suggests that Hispanics aren’t very good parents.  This is total crap to me because, as a Hispanic parent of a teen, I think it’s just as important for me to be engaged with my son as it is for a buddy of mine, who’s a Caucasian parent of a teen.  We’re all in this thing together and I’m not convinced of the hidden blame with the study’s findings.

Really, it’s up to everyone to eradicate the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse. Period.  While the parent-teen relationship is critical (regardless of race), almost as important is the teacher-teen relationship, the counselor-teen relationship, the Uncle-teen relationship, etc.   We ALL need to monitor teens’ behaviors as adults.  We ALL need to watch for changes in friends, clothes, and music preferences (among other changes in behaviors).  But first, ALL ADULTS need to understand that we are in fact role models and we should seek our own health such that we can then model that health for our teens.  To suggest than any one group is more responsible for teen development than any other group is to almost provide a veil to mask everyone’s responsibility.

I am my son’s keeper.  I pray and hope that I set him on a good and strong path.  But, I also hope that ALL parents, regardless of race, also want the best for their kids.  Parenting should be race-neutral.  We should all want the best for teens, as in the Whitney Houston once sang, they are in fact our future.  We should help shape that future to the best of our abilities.

The article and study can be found here: Metlife Study.