Many dads are AWOL in the battle to keep kids drug-free and this increases their teen's risk of substance abuse, according to a new survey of 2,000 teens and 1,000 parents released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).
The CASA survey found that children living in two-parent families who have a fair or poor relationship with their father are at 68% higher risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs compared to all teens living in a two-parent household. The average teen living in a household headed by a single mother is at 30% higher risk compared to all teens in a two-parent household.
CASA's survey reveals the following:
Teens consistently rate moms more favorably than dads.
71% of teens report having an excellent or very good relationship with mom; only 58% have such a relationship with dad.
More than twice as many teens say it's easier to talk to mom than dad about drugs (57% vs. 26%).
Twice as many teens who never used marijuana credit mom as credit dad with their decision (29% vs. 13%).
While 45% of teens have discussed drugs with both parents,
almost four times as many teens had such discussions with mom alone (15%) than with dad alone (4%).
Teens are three times more likely to rely solely on mom than solely on dad when they have important decisions to make (28% vs. 9%).
45% of teens say mom is more demanding in terms of grades, homework and personal behavior; 39% say dads are more demanding.
"This is a wake-up call for every dad in America," said CASA President and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr. "It's time...to look in the mirror and ask: How often do I eat meals with my children? Take them to religious services? Help with their homework? Attend their games and extracurricular activities? Join mom in monitoring my teen's conduct, praising and disciplining them?" Califano pointed out that children in a home headed by a single mother who have an excellent relationship with their mother are at 62% lower risk of abusing substances than children in a two-parent family with a fair or poor relationship with their father.
The safest teens, identified by CASA in its analysis of the impact of family structure and relationships to substance abuse risk, are those living in two-parent homes who have a positive relationship with both parents, go to "both parents equally" when they have important decisions to make, have discussed illegal drugs with both parents and report their mom and dad are "equally" demanding of the teen in terms of grades, homework and personal behavior. "Parent power is key to keeping our kids drug free," said Califano. “...both mom and dad need to be engaged in their child's life. Parents have enormous power over a child's well-being but too many fail to appreciate and use this power."
Excerpted from The NationalCenter on Addiction and Substance Abuse at ColumbiaUniversity