Marriage Matters

Family Structure and Adolescent Cigarette/Alcohol Use

This article was posted on: April 26, 2018

Social science research continues to show the importance of families for the health and well-being of children. Growing up in an intact family helps safeguard adolescents from participating in risky behavior, like smoking and drinking. Social science research shows that:

  • 18 percent of adolescents living in two-parent homes said they had smoked in the last 30 days, compared with 31 percent in single-parent homes.
  • The odds for adolescent drinking are 93 percent higher for cohabiting families than for intact families.
  • The likelihood for teenage girls to start drinking nearly doubles from 19 percent to 37 percent among those who transition from a divorced single-parent family into a married stepfamily.
  • The odds of alcohol initiation for boys in divorced single-parent families rise by 13 percent when they transition to stepfamilies.

Children’s family structure impacts their willingness to smoke cigarettes or drink at an early age. As a parent your example of attending to God first will have a great protective effect on your child’s use of alcohol. Are you a good role model for them?

As always, it’s important to know that these statistics do not mean that divorced parents, single parents, or stepfamilies are doomed. But it does show that they have to work harder to overcome some very real challenges. These statistics also show the importance of all of us promoting and supporting healthy marriages and families.

Download the complete facts sheet from the Marriage and Religion Research Institue

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