Alcoholism and drug abuse among teenagers is a peril all around the world ; these addictions are often carried along to adulthood thus destroying the lives of many populates. Researchers have shown that teenagers and young adults who begin binge drinking of alcohol from a young age are most likely to be dependent even later in their lives. Several factors have been known to predispose a person to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. According to Julie, 2017, teenagers and young adult take drugs and alcohol because of the following reasons; influence by peers, family members and role models; popular media; for self- medication and to escape from their tribulations; boredom; for instant gratification; to rebel against the authorities or parents; due to lack of self- assurance; due to misinformation on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and the belief that prescribed drugs can not harm a person (Julie, 2007). From the above reasons for alcoholism and drug addiction, it is evident that the parent or guardian can play a big role in the prevention of the addictions. Poor parenting skills can drive an individual into alcoholism and drug addiction. This is the thesis statement that this paper is set to address.
There are four main parenting styles; First, authoritarian parents. Authoritarian parents are controlling and exert discipline on their children coldly without affection and responsiveness. These parents are always ready to punish for any mistakes but never praise a child after a good deed. Secondly, there are permissive parents; these parents do not control their children and let them do what they want without reprimand or punishment. They are warm to their children and very responsive. However, they take both mistakes made and good behaviors as acceptable and never reprimand their children. Thirdly, neglectful parents do not exert discipline or control on the children. They are not warm to their children neither do they provide feedback. They do not show any interest in a child’s development either in academics, physical growth or spiritual and emotional growth. Finally there are authoritative parents who are very controlling and exert discipline thoroughly. They are warm to their children and responsive. They praise their children for every success they achieve and use thoughtful guidance and discipline when their children astray from good behavior. From the four parental styles, only authoritative parents would be able to reduce the risks for alcohol and drug abuse among their children (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017).
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Causes of Poor Parenting Skills
In America, most researches have revealed that parents in the country believe that poor parenting is mostly as a result of low financial status. According to studies conducted by the pew research center, the worries, outlook and aspirations of parenting are directly related to the financial situations of the families. The research was set to find out whether children are better off with wealthy parents or with parents of low financial abilities. In their 2015 research, the center reported that a large number of American families believed that proper parenting is not based on values and philosophies but rather it relies on the economic circumstances and the family structures. The study further showed that parents with low incomes and financial instability can limit the access of their children to safe environments and other augmentation activities that are vital in the growth and development of a child. Due to this, statistics show that juvenile delinquency and teenage pregnancies are higher in low- income neighborhoods (Pew Research Center, 2015).
Effects of Poor Parenting Skills
Lack of effective parenting skills can lead to some long term effects. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, poor parenting can lead to an inability of an individual to hold long lasting relationships and friendships. This inability is mostly caused by lack of parental reprimanding or punishing the child leading the child to believe that they are in control or always right. Psychological disorders can also arise from poor parenting. In families where the child is neglected often or there is a lot of abuse, whether physical, mental or emotional, the children will learn to live in solitude and have a hard time making friends and trusting people thus leading to psychological disorders (American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 2014).
Poor parenting skills dispose a child to criminal behaviors. Children who are neglected and/ or abused are most likely to indulge in juvenile delinquency from a young age. Furthermore, a child who grew up with parents or guardians who lacked parental skills is more susceptible to depression and self- loathing; this is especially true for children who were regularly criticized, abused, insulted or belittles and those children who were not allowed to make their own decisions. In addition to all these, children brought up by bad parents fail to thrive in academics and in general life stages. Finally, the children’s physical and mental growth is also deterred (American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 2014).
Poor parenting skills have great impact in childhood development. According to Gleason, 2015, poor parenting manifests in a different way for different people. For instance parents who expose their children to violence, unethical sexual behavior and illegal activities predispose their children to be abusive in future. On the other hand, excess destructive criticism and rude behaviors at home lowers the self- assurance of a child making them to doubt their capabilities as they grow. The highest numbers of crimes committed by delinquents have been connected to illegal activities by the corresponding adults. Gleason reports that the children that have been raised by parents with poor parenting skills are most likely to make poor choices of their own and with their children in future because they lacked proper models as they grew up (Gleason, 2015).
How Poor Parenting Skills Lead to Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
As mentioned earlier, the main causes of alcoholism and drug abuse is influence, popular media, self- medication, escape, boredom, gratification, rebellion, misinformation and lack of confidence. All of the mentioned reasons can be driven by poor parental skills.
Influence is one of the main causes of alcohol and substance abuse. Teenagers may influenced by their friends, role models, family members or other people they trust. When a child grows up next to apparent that is always taking alcohol, they will grow up knowing that alcohol is a necessity in life and may adapt to taking it too. Furthermore, living in an environment that is filled with alcoholic drinks will drive a child to take the alcohol. In addition to family members, friends and role models can also influence a child to take alcohol. When growing up, children select people that they look up to and therefore mimic their every step. therefore, if a child’s role model takes drugs or alcohol, the child is most likely to be addicted to the drugs too. Friends spend most of the time with teenagers than even their parents. These friends have huge impacts in the children lives and they can determine whether the teenager will adopt proper behaviors or not.
A parent should always be there to ensure that their children are not influenced into substance abuse. Parents with poor parenting skills mostly neglect their children and leave them at the mercy of their friends and their role models and as a result the children end up mimicking their behaviors. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to delay the onset of drinking in their children for as long as possible. Parents with proper parenting skills would teach their children to be independent and assertive and to trust in their own judgment. By doing so, they helping their children to avoid peer pressure and influence from role models. Parents should also make sure that their children’s role model will be helpful in their children lives rather than destructive. Importantly, parents should check their behaviors before their children to make sure that they behave in a manner that they expect their children to behave. Parents who are dealing with addictions should make sure that they avoid using drugs and alcohols in front of their children or storing the drugs in the house since this will tempt the children into using the drugs.
Self- medication and escape
Some children grow up with psychological disorders; such as bipolar disease, anxiety disorders and depression. These diseases make children to react differently to people are therefore people end up ignoring them leaving them in solitude. Secondly, when children are unhappy and are alone without any outlet for their frustrations or lack a confidant to talk to, they may decide to self- medicate. In their teenage years, children are always emotional and this can take a toll on their health such as lead to depression if not proper guidance is given. Children undergoing social, academic and emotional stress are more likely to indulge in alcohol and substance abuse than others. When such children are offered drugs that can ‘make them feel better’, they cannot resist. The children can take a range of drugs including illegal drugs such as marijuana, prescription drugs, prescription stimulants (mainly used to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and tranquilizers and over the counter pain relievers.
The most significant reason for children to self-medicate and use drugs as an escape plan is because they lack an outlet for their frustrations and a trustworthy confidant. A poor parenting skill is one of the reasons why a child would lack an outlet and/ or a confidant. Teenage years are rough on most children and they may take a toll on their emotions, academics and social lives. For this reason, they need their parents around for guidance and support when need. However when the parent is authoritative, they exert a lot of control on the child that the child may develop a sense of fear towards the parents instead of love and respect. For this reason, the child mays shy away from using their parents as a confidant. Parents should be fair, understanding and caring to their children in order to reassure them that they can come to them for guidance, support and encouragement. What is more, parents should provide an outlet for their children’s frustrations. For example, a parent can let the child spend time with trustworthy friends; a child can participate in sports and games or can indulge in activities that the child loves. All these stress relievers will be used as outlet for the frustrations thus reduce the risk of alcohol and substance abuse.
Parents should remember that genetic factors present since childhood will determine the likelihood of alcoholism. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, parents should not always blame themselves when their children turn out to be alcoholics. The report says that some personalities such as impulsivity are genetic and can increase the risks of alcoholism where the person is unable to control themselves. In addition, genetics can lead to psychiatric conditions that will further dispose a person to alcoholism and drug abuse. Some descents such as the Asians have high poor alcohol tolerance thereby preventing them from drinking. On the other hand, some people have high alcohol tolerance and therefore they have to take high amounts of alcohols to get the effects. Finally, if a parent is addicted to alcohol or drugs, then the child is at a higher risk of developing a drugs and alcohol problem (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017).
How parents can improve their parenting skills
Parents who would like to produce productive members of the society and believe that their parenting skills are not sufficient can take the following measure. First, a parent can decide to take parental classes so that they can learn what they are doing wrong and how to correct the mistakes. Secondly, the parent can join support groups and learn from others. Parents in support groups share the experiences they have had with their children and point out their successes and failures- these successes and failures can be taken into consideration and be used as pointers to increase the parental efficiency at home. Lastly, the parent can decide to participate in community outreach programs that will bring the parent and the child closer.
According to the child development institute, a good parent will always create time to spend with the child on a regular basis. They are consistent in punishing and rewarding a behavior and are strict about discipline. Good parents are firm, fair and friendly to their children. They enforce rules in the houses and consequences are clearly stipulated. They are fair in that they punish the child with accordance to the crime and they reward them when they deserve it. Parents are friendly to their children during communication as much as they want to be firm; they do not talk rudely to their children and support them when need be (Myers, 2015).
Finally, a parent is like a coach to their children. They detail to their children how they would like them to behave, make them practice the behavior and encourage them whenever it gets tough. Furthermore, they will provide constructive criticism whenever the child goes astray from the specified behavior. Parents should always note that children do not appreciate being ordered on what to do but instead they learn from others. The parents should be the role model to the children and teach them how to behave by adopting the behavior themselves. The parent to listen carefully to the children as they complain of the obstacles they face as well as help them to express their feelings. Finally, a parent should always use descriptive praises to raise the self- esteem of their children (Myers, 2015).
All parents desire their children to grow up healthy and independent irrespective of the style of parenting they use. With the right parenting skills, parents have the capability to protect their children from physical, emotional and social problems. Several reasons can drive a young teenager to take alcohol; however, only proper parenting skills will make sure that these temptations are overcome and the child grows up sober and industrious. Parents who feel insufficient can join support groups and community services that will increase her knowledge on how best to take care of their children. However, some parents who have tried and failed in protecting their children from substance and alcohol abuse should not blame themselves since genetics may have been a factor in the child’s behavior. However, parents should not neglect their child and push them into drug abuse just to put the blame on genetics later.
Julie, K. (2017). Top 8 Reasons Why Teens Try Alcohol and Drugs. Partnership for Drug Free Kids . Retrieved on March 28, 2017 from www.drugfree.org
Myers, D. (2015). Parenting 101. Child Development Institute. Retrieved on March 28, 2017 from https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/how-to-be-a-parent/parenting/
Gleason, K. Lack of Parenting Skills. Livestrong.com. Retrieved on March 28, 2017 from www.livestrong.com/article/170923-lack-of-parenting-skills
American Society for the Positive Care Of Children. (2014). Effects of Bad Parenting on Your Child. Print
Pew Research Center. (2015). Parenting in America: Outlook, Worries, Aspirations are Strongly Linked to Financial Situation . Print
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2017). Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use . Print