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Teens vocal with moms resist peer pressure to use drugs

Teens who are more vocal with their moms, even if they disagree, are able to resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink.

This is the finding of researchers from the University of Virginia, in the US, who looked at more than 150 teens and their parents, a group that was racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse. "The healthy autonomy they'd established at home seemed to carry over into their relationships with peers," suggested Joseph P. Allen, psychology professor at the University of Virginia, who led the study.

"It may be that teens who are secure in their ability to turn to their mothers under stress are less likely to end up feeling overly dependent upon their close friends, and thus less likely to be influenced by their friends' behaviour when it's negative," noted Allen.

The teens were studied at ages 13, 15 and 16 to gather information on substance use, interactions with moms, social skills and close friendships, the journal Child Development reports.  Among the best protected were teens who had learned to argue well with their moms about such topics as grades, money, household rules and friends, according to a Virginia statement.

Arguing well was defined as trying to persuade their mothers with reasoned arguments, rather than with pressure, whining or insults. The study also found that teens who had formed good relationships with their parents and their peers were more likely to resist peer influences related to substance use.

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