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The Importance of Parental Monitoring

In addition to authoritative parenting, another parenting strategy that’s proven to pay huge dividends for drug and alcohol prevention is a high level of parental monitoring:

  • Do you know where your teen son or daughter is right now? How about after school, or on a Saturday night?
  • Do you know who your adolescent child hangs out with? What are his or her friends’ names? Can you get in touch with them or their parents if you need to?

The teen years are a time of natural experimentation, risk taking and boundary pushing - and even the best kids are going to get tempted to do things, like try drugs or alcohol, that can get them into trouble.

While you can’t ever hope to watch them every second, you can help to protect them from the most dangerous of their natural impulses by staying involved and staying active in their lives!

Parents who closely monitor their kids are more likely to stop trouble before it starts and to solve small problems before they become big problems.

Some research findings which illustrate the importance of parental monitoring include:

  • A European study of 15 and 16 year olds showed that a high level of parental monitoring was associated with a reduced probability of being a heavy substance user. In the study, parents who didn’t know where their children went on Saturday nights were the most likely to have teens who abused drugs and alcohol.1
  • An American study, which followed almost 1000 kids from the ages of 8 to 11, found that kids in households with the lowest levels of parental monitoring were the most likely to initiate alcohol, tobacco or other drug use at a young age, and the less monitored a kid was, the earlier the initiation of use.2
  • A BYU study of over 4000 teens from grades 7 to 12 found that teens who felt that their parents were monitoring their activities were far less likely to use drugs and alcohol than teens who perceived low levels of monitoring. Additionally, teens who perceived that their parents condoned the use of alcohol or drugs were far more likely to use these substances.3

Not Complicated – but Always a Challenge

The answer to keeping your teen son or daughter safe from the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as a host of other risky activities, isn’t complicated – but when parenting teens, no one pretends that even the most straightforward of advice is going to be easy!

Learn more about authoritative parenting and about how keeping your children involved in the decisions of the family can increase their overall competency levels and happiness as it also protects them from some of the worst of the dangers.

And get and stay involved in the loves of teens, who may love their privacy, but still need the guidance and protection of mom and dad.


  1. Family Structure, Parent Child Relationships and Alcohol and Other Drug Use among Teenagers in France and the United Kingdom
  2. Impact of parent monitoring on initiation of drug use through late childhood.
  3. Bahr, Stephen J., John P. Hoffmann, and Xiaoyan Yang. “Parental and Peer Influences on the Risk of Adolescent Drug Use.” Journal of Primary Prevention 26(6): 529-551 (2005).    

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