Youth perceptions of parental involvement and monitoring, discrepancies with parental perceptions, and their associations with first cigarette use in black and white girls

Carolyn E. Sartor, Feifei Ye, Patricia Simon, Zu Wei Zhai, Alison E. Hipwell, Tammy Chung

Publication Date: 05/17/2019

Objective: Low parental involvement and monitoring are risk factors for adolescent cigarette use. Assessments of parental involvement and monitoring by youth and parents may capture an additional source of risk: Differences in perceptions of these parenting behaviors. This study tested for unique contributions of youth-reported parental involvement and monitoring and youth–parent discrepancies in reporting to first cigarette use in girls. Method: Data were drawn from interviews at ages 8–17 with 1,869 girls (57.3% Black, 42.7% White) and their primary caregivers (94% mothers) in the Pittsburgh Girls Study. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were conducted to predict first cigarette use as a function of girls’ reports of parental involvement and monitoring, magnitude and direction of youth–parent reporting discrepancies, and the interaction between them, adjusting for neighborhood, socioeconomic, and individual level factors. Results: High magnitude of discrepancy in parental involvement reports (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.03, 1.26]) and lower perceived parental involvement by girls (HR = 1.14, CI [1.03, 1.27]) were associated with an elevated risk for first cigarette use. Girls’ reports of low parental monitoring also predicted first cigarette use (HR = 1.14, CI [1.06, 1.21]). Conclusions: Girls whose parents have limited awareness of their whereabouts and friends (i.e., low monitoring) are at an elevated risk for trying cigarettes, but parent–daughter differences in perceived awareness do not affect risk. By contrast, girls who perceive a lower degree of parental involvement than their parents do are at increased risk. Monitoring is one component of parenting that may reduce smoking risk; shared perspectives on the parent’s level of involvement are similarly important. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 81, 180–189, 2020)…