Determinants of parental attempts to deter their children's cigarette smoking

Melodie Fearnow, Laurie Chassin, Clark C. Presson, Steven J. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Prevention programs targeting child and adolescent cigarette smoking have primarily focused on the social influence of peers, to the neglect of parents. The limited success of these programs and the consistent evidence linking parenting practices to cigarette smoking and other substance use has sparked interest in the role parents play in their children's decision to smoke. Using cross-sectional data from participants in an ongoing longitudinal project, the present study examined possible determinants of two smoking-specific parenting behaviors: parent activism (how much a parent discourages, talks about, and monitors/controls child smoking) and parental permissiveness about the child smoking at home. Several health, addiction, and stress variables were hypothesized to promote or undermine these parenting behaviors. Results suggested that parental values on their child's nonsmoking (particularly for fathers) significantly predicted both parenting behaviors. However, the relation between parents' values and their actions was weakened for parents with less negative health beliefs about smoking and for parents under higher levels of environmental stress. Parental beliefs about the health consequences of smoking were associated with activism but not permissiveness, whereas parental beliefs about the addictive nature of smoking predicted neither outcome. Parental smoking predicted only permissiveness, but smoking status was involved in several interesting interactions. The present findings suggest that cigarette smoking prevention programs may be improved by increasing parents' values on their children's non-smoking, increasing parents' beliefs about the health risks of smoking, helping parents cope with stress, and being particularly aware of the differential effect that these factors can have on mothers and fathers and on parents who smoke cigarettes themselves or who have smoked in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-468
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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