URBANA, Ill. (CBS St. Louis) - Researchers have learned that parents who attempt to bond with their children by disclosing past drug use are unintentionally negating any anti-drug messages they may have expressed to their children in the past.
The study, conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, additionally learned that parents who kept quiet about their past indiscretions and instead focused on the negative effects of drug use fared better in helping their kids adopt anti-drug values for themselves.
Even parents who showed regret over their former drug habits in an effort to teach children through disclosure of their mistakes did not have the same impact as those who withheld information about their pasts.
“Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their kids about times when they used substances in the past and not volunteer such information,” study co-author Jennifer A. Kam was quoted as saying by Science Daily.
In order to reach their conclusion, Kam and fellow study author Ashley V. Middleton poured over surveys completed by 561 children in sixth, seventh and eighth grade – 253 Latino kids, and 308 European ones in all.
Though other studies in the past have reportedly shown otherwise, the surveys collected in this study showed negative consequences resulting from parents opening up too much to their children in regards to drug use.
Kam noted, “[I]t is important to remember this study is one of the first to examine the associations between parents’ references to their own past substance use and their adolescent children’s subsequent perceptions and behaviors.”
Children were said to be more likely to avoid drugs after hearing messages focused on the negative effects of using and abusing drugs and alcohol, as well as avoidance techniques, Science Daily learned.
The study was published in the journal Human Communication Research.