As kids grow older, they rely more on the support of friends and mentors from school rather than from their families at home, but a study posted on shows that parental involvement still proves to be very important in helping them decide on what's good for them, and even prevents them from indulging in substances such as alcohol and marijuana.

Based on data from 10,000 students, Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University, and his colleagues from Brigham Young University and the Pennsylvania State University, observed how "family social capital" (the bonds between parents and children) and "school social capital" (the school's ability to promote learning) affect the likelihood of children doing alcohol and marijuana.

The researchers discovered that the family social capital has a bigger influence on kids than the school social capital.

Parcel explains how important it is for parents to stay involved in their children's lives. "Parents play an important role in shaping the decisions their children make when it comes to alcohol and marijuana," he says. "To be clear, school programs that address alcohol and marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form with their children are more important. Ideally, we can have both."

The key is not to breathe down your child's back, but to become a constant, comforting, and supportive presence for her. Be there when she needs you, guide her in making the right decisions, but also give her the chance to experience new things and to once in a while make mistakes. Having an honest and open relationship with your young one can help her become a competent, well-balanced individual with a good outlook on life.

(Photo by J.K. Califf via Flickr Creative Commons)

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