FRIDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- It's time for that heart to
heart with your kids about the dangers of smoking, drinking or
illicit drugs. One thing it's best not to bring up: Your own
dabbling in such substances in your youth, a new study
The study found that kids are more likely to have negative views
of smoking, drinking and drugs if their parents don't reveal that
they used these substances.
The researchers asked 253 Hispanic and 308 white children in
grades six to eight about conversations they had with their parents
about alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.
Previous research found that teens said they were less likely to
use drugs if their parents told them about their own past drug use.
But this new study found that children whose parents talked to them
about the negative effects of or regret over their use of alcohol,
cigarettes or marijuana were less likely to oppose the use of these
The researchers said their findings suggest that there may be
unintended consequences for children when their parents share their
history of past substance use, even if it is meant as a
The study, published online recently in the journal
Human Communication Research, did identify specific ways
that parents can talk to children to discourage them from using
alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
This includes telling children about the harm caused by these
substances, how to avoid them and stories about others who have
gotten into trouble from using them. Parents can also tell children
that they disapprove of substance use and outline family rules
against substance use.
"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 Kam, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a journal news release.
"Of course, it 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," she added.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers parents tips on
preventing child and teen substance abuse.