35-Year-Old Parents Do Not Approve of 17-Year-Olds’ Cigarette, Marijuana, or Alcohol Use: U.S. National Data 1993–2018

Christopher J. Mehus, Megan E. Patrick, John Schulenberg, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Parents’ attitudes about adolescent substance use likely guide their parenting behaviors. This study documents prevalence of parents’ disapproval of adolescent substance use and characteristics associated with disapproval. Methods: Survey data from national samples of 35-year-old parents from the U.S. Monitoring the Future study were collected 1993–2018. Multivariable logistic regression examined predictors of disapproving attitudes about substance use by a hypothetical 17-year-old child, including occasional marijuana use or drunkenness, and regular cigarette, marijuana, or alcohol use. Results: Across all cohorts, rates of disapproving attitudes ranged from 93.7% disapproving of getting drunk occasionally to 97.2% disapproving of regular cigarette use, with some erosion in disapproval for some substances across cohorts. Parents’ own recent abstinence from substance use predicted greater odds of disapproval. Conclusions: The overwhelming majority of 35-year-old parents disapprove of adolescent substance use. Prevention and public health messaging can support parenting by sharing this important information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-992
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The development of this study, including data collection and analysis, was supported by research grants R01DA001411 , R01DA016575 , R01DA037902 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse , the National Institutes of Health . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine


  • Adolescent substance use
  • Alcohol use
  • Cigarette use
  • Marijuana use
  • Parent attitudes
  • Parenting


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