Parents’ actions and knowledge of adolescents’ whereabouts play key roles in preventing risk behaviors in early adolescence, but what enables parents to know about their adolescents’ activities and what links there are to adolescent risk behaviors, such as substance use and delinquent behavior, remain unclear. In this study, we investigated whether different aspects of the parent–adolescent relationship predict parental knowledge, and we examined the direct and indirect longitudinal associations between these aspects of the parent– adolescent relationship and adolescents’ self-reported delinquent behavior and substance use. The participants were 550 parents and their adolescent children from two small and two midsized municipalities in Sweden. Parental data were collected when the adolescents were 13 years old (mean), and adolescent data on risk behaviors were collected on two occasions, when they were 13 and 14 years of age (mean). Structural path analyses revealed that adolescent disclosure, parental solicitation, and parental control predicted parental knowledge, with adolescent disclosure being the strongest source of parental knowledge and the strongest negative predictor of adolescent risk behaviors. Parenting competence and adolescents’ connectedness to parents were indirectly, through adolescent disclosure and parental solicitation and parental control, associated with substance use and delinquent behavior. Some paths differed for boys and girls. In conclusion, confident parenting and a close parent–adolescent relationship in which adolescent disclosure is promoted, seem protective of adolescent engagement in risk behaviors.
Vetenskapsrådet, Vinnova, Formas, Forte.