Parents: How to Avoid Contributing to Addictive Tendencies in Your Teen

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People who develop substance use disorders often exhibit certain signs at a younger age. If your teen starts to display these traits, it’s possible that addiction will become a problem later in life.

Examples of Addictive Tendencies

  • Participating in reckless behaviors
  • Engaging in delinquent behavior
  • Aggression toward others
  • Rebelling against authority figures
  • Trouble managing relationships
  • Lack of patience
  • Alienation

Parenting Styles

Without even realizing it, some parents are contributing to addictive tendencies in their teens. An effective parenting style can influence a teen’s behavior and help reduce the risk of future substance addiction. A permissive parenting style may be ineffective and can allow the development of addictive tendencies. Conversely, an authoritative parenting style may be more effective in discouraging addictive tendencies.

Permissive or Enabling: Parents allow teens to do what they want with little discipline, together with high warmth and high responsiveness. For example, they tell a teen all grades are acceptable and ignore behavior that’s possibly leading to bad grades.

Authoritative: These parents maintain control and provide a high level of discipline, coupled with high levels of warmth and responsiveness. For example, they offer praise for good grades, provide guidance where necessary and help their children to raise low grades. They also use well thought-out discipline that doesn’t go overboard.

An authoritative parenting style is frequently the most effective approach because it makes the necessary effort to curb negative behaviors. A permissive or enabling parenting style does little to address negative behaviors or addictive tendencies.

Enabling Behaviors in Parents

People experiencing a substance use disorder display behaviors such as deception, secretiveness, failure to follow through with responsibilities, chronic lateness, lack of judgment and poor boundaries.1 Parents who enable their children may unintentionally encourage these characteristics.

Enabling is when a parent protects their child from the negative consequences of their behavior.2 Teens need to experience the effects of their behaviors to learn the life skills needed for adulthood.

Contributing to Addictive Tendencies

Teens with enabling parents have no sense of boundaries and use rejection, aggressiveness or anger to get what they want from their parents. Many permissive parents who have a poor sense of their own value seek validation from their teens by ignoring inappropriate behaviors. However, when parents compromise their own values to avoid rejection or anger from their teens, these parents are exhibiting enabling behaviors.

Authoritative Parents

Parents who wish to discourage any potential addictive tendencies in their teen may benefit from adopting an authoritative parenting style. When parents maintain control, enforce discipline, respond to needs and provide support, teens can learn that boundaries exist for their own good.

These teens also learn that when the rules are broken, there are consequences. When teens are raised with an authoritative parenting style, they know that anger and rejection won’t work to manipulate their parents. In these ways, an authoritative parenting style fosters positive growth rather than addictive tendencies.


References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/200806/the-continuum-addiction-and-the-addictive-personality
  2. https://psychcentral.com/lib/are-you-an-enabler/