Mothers – A “Hands-On” Approach to Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Parenting Style Differences

Research indicates that mothers and fathers tend to have more similarities than differences when it comes to parenting their children. However, while not necessarily right or wrong there are differences in style between mothers and fathers that are worth noting. Of interest to prevention efforts is the finding that mothers tend to be more involved in daily care giving situations than do fathers. (Schneider)

The Partnership Attitude Tracking study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, provides additional insights to the above research.

Mothers are significantly more likely than fathers to actively monitor their child’s daily activities and enforce rules prohibiting alcohol and drug use. (See Table below)

Mothers also feel greater responsibility than fathers to engage in alcohol and drug prevention. (See Table below)


Alcohol and Drug Conversations

Putting that sense of responsibility into action, mothers are more likely than fathers to talk to their children about the risks of drugs.  (See Table below)




Influence of Television Public Service Messages

Television public service messages have a greater influence on mothers’ alcohol and drug prevention efforts than they do on fathers. Mothers are more likely to consider the messages as a source of information about drugs; they are also more likely to be prompted to have drug related conversations with their children after seeing the messages than are fathers. (See Table below)



Treatment and Addiction Attitudes

Mothers are more likely than fathers to believe that addiction is a disease and that people with the disease of addiction can be helped through treatment. (See following Table)




While both mothers and fathers are involved in teaching and educating their children, they often demonstrate different approaches to child rearing and alcohol and drug prevention.

Because mothers take a more proactive direct approach to alcohol and drug prevention, it is important that prevention techniques, information on how to conduct interventions with adolescents with a substance abuse problem and how to get treatment for those with problems continue to be directed to mothers.


About Us

the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the primary resource and cause leader for parents facing issues about alcohol and drugs and their teens. We conduct research with experts in child development, substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. Our major partner in this area is Treatment Research Institute (TRI).

the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids also conducts quantitative and qualitative research with parents. The combination of scientific learning and insights into parents’ perceptions, attitudes, and behavior with their children gives us a unique understanding of parents. The centerpiece of the research is the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), sponsored by MetLife Foundation –a quantitative in-home, national probability sample with 1,000 parents with a child 10-19 years old living in the household. This paper includes findings from the 2008 PATS study and focus groups conducted in the last three years. Given the learning from research, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has mobilized its resources to provide parents with the most comprehensive science-based information and tools to effectively prevent, intervene in and find treatment at for drug and alcohol use by their children.

the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids thanks MetLife Foundation for its support of the 2009 Parents Attitude Tracking Study.

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    Lisa Potts

    April 5, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    I think it is a gross mistake to take a true statement, “mothers are more ready to see addiction as a disease that needs treatment” and then let that lead to conclusion that therefore, continue to focus energy on communicating to mothers. I am an educated woman, who also thought my son’s addiction was treatable, but my husband’s ignorance, and control of the purse strings of our family, kept my son from getting help, kept our family in conflict, and eventually drove the entire family over a cliff. You cannot skip the dad, SORRY, but ignorant or not, he is 1/2 of the equation to getting early and decent treatment.

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