Many studies have illustrated the influence that peers have on one another, as well as how different parenting styles impact children. However, it is not common to see a study done on the effects of different parenting styles on children’s friends. A study was conducted which found that the degree of authoritativeness (high warmth, high control) in a network was correlated with lower inclination toward delinquency, lower levels of substance abuse, and better psycho-social ability. In order to find out more about these results, researchers at UC San Diego looked at the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to study the associations between a child’s behavior and their friend’s behavior, their mother’s parenting style, and their friend’s mother’s parenting style.
First, they found that a friend’s behavior so strongly impacts an adolescent that having a friend who gets drunk makes the adolescent 32% more likely to do the same. That child is also 90% more likely to smoke cigarettes if they have a friend who does so, 146% more likely to smoke marijuana if they have a friend that does so, and 47% more likely to binge drink if they have a friend that does so.
Then, when looking at the impact of parenting style on a child, they found that the likelihood of a child getting drunk is reduced by 57% and the probability of smoking is reduced by 43% if they have an authoritative parent.
Finally, researchers found that if a child’s friend’s mother is authoritative, that child is 40% less likely to get drunk, 38% less likely to binge drink, 39% less likely to smoke cigarettes, and 43% less likely to smoke marijuana. In addition, a child whose friend’s mother is authoritarian (low warmth, high control), is 46% less likely to smoke marijuana than if their friend’s mother was neglectful (low warmth, low control). These results show that the correlation of the parenting style of a friend’s mother is roughly the same as the correlation of the parenting style of a child’s own mother when it comes to drinking and smoking.
However, the correlation is stronger for a friend’s mother than a child’s own mother for marijuana use and binge drinking. The takeaway here is that exerting control in your child’s life while also showing love and care, is not only beneficial to the child but to the child’s social network as well.