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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
should be doing or not doing). Cialdini argues that focusing on injunctive norms is more effective at changing behavior than targeting only descriptive norms.
Although peers are one important influence on adolescents’ choices, parents remain important during the teen years. Many adolescents report that they turn to their parents for advice regarding educational and career decisions, although they turn to their friends for advice about clothes and music (Montemayor, 1982). Indeed, most theoretical perspectives today suggest that close connections to both parents and peers are related to easier transitions to independence (e.g., Allen and Hauser, 1996). Yet peer influences also depend in part on the quality of parent-child relationships (Parke and Ladd, 1992). Adolescents who have positive relationships with their parents may be more likely to have friends who engage in socially valued activities than do adolescents with less positive parental interactions. Similarly, more involved parents may oversee and monitor their child’s peer relationships more than do less involved parents, thereby reducing adolescents’ engagement in undesired behaviors (see, for example, Fletcher et al., 1995). Parents also have a significant amount of influence on their children’s choice of friends. Parents help shape prosocial and antisocial behavior, which leads children to gravitate toward particular crowds.
Parental monitoring and involvement are key components in reducing adolescent alcohol use. Monitoring of an adolescent’s behavior involves the parent or guardian supervising the adolescent; knowing the adolescent’s whereabouts; knowing the adolescent’s friends and peers; setting expectations that are clear and optimally challenging; delivering consequences that are fair, affirming, and useful; and communicating with the adolescent (Connell et al., 1995; Connell and Halpern-Felsher, 1997; Halpern-Felsher et al., 1997; Lee and Halpern-Felsher, 2001). Similarly, parental involvement is the extent to which parents show interest in, are knowledgeable about, and put effort into their child’s activities and development. Both parental monitoring and involvement serve to prevent or reduce adolescents’ health-compromising behaviors through the setting of curfews, awareness of and participation in after-school and weekend activities, prevention of adolescents’ association with risky peers, and the improvement of social skills (Beck and Lockhart, 1992; Cohen et al., 1994; Steinberg et al., 1994). Research on parental monitoring consistently shows protective effects on alcohol use (Barnes et al., 2000; Bogenschneider et al., 1998; Reifman et al., 1998; DiClemente et al., 2001).
Families also provide an arena in which fledgling decision makers try their new skills and in which more experienced decision makers model