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Most Children Learn Violent Behavior at Home

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Orpinas says that even though students who lived with both parents had the lowest aggression scores, low parental monitoring, poor relationship with parents, and perceived parental support for fighting were more predictive of aggression than family structure. "Although parents may seem loving and normal they may not be giving kids the guidance they need," says Orpinas. "Building bombs in garages is not a normal thing. Parents who don't know this or don't stop it are guilty of a lack of parental monitoring or sending their child the wrong message."

A recent study -- dealing not with violence but addiction -- came to similar conclusions especially relating to fathers. According to a study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released in August, teen-agers who do not get along well with their fathers are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs than youngsters who got along well with their dads. Even teen-agers from one-parent families are less at risk from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs than those in two-parent families who have poor relationships with their fathers.

Orpinas says whether dealing with aggressive behavior or addiction, the message is clear. "Children need to be talked to and monitored starting at a very young age," says Orpinas. "And parents have to be careful what they teach their children, because children learn from them the most."

Vital Information:

  • Despite blame that is often placed on the media and peer pressure, the biggest determinant of a child's aggressive behavior is the influence of their parents.
  • Low parental monitoring, poor relationships with parents, and perceived parental support for fighting were the most predictive factors of aggression in adolescents, according to a recent study.
  • Similar findings have shown that addictive behavior is greatly influenced by parental relationships, especially those with the father.
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