The power of perception: an exploration of the relationship between perceptions of parenting behaviors and substance abuse in transition-aged youth through an Adlerian Lens

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katie A. Wachtel (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kelly Wester

Abstract: In 2013, approximately 9.4% of the American population over the age of 12 reported illicit use of a substance in the past month (National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2014), with rates of substance abuse the highest among individuals transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood, or transition-aged youth (TAY; Pottick, Warner, Vander Stoep, & Knight, 2014). Many TAY are no longer residing with their family of origin, and are working to gain independence in meeting the demands of adulthood (Wilens & Rosenbaum; 2013); however, parents continue to act as a resource for TAY to varying degrees (Davis, 2003). The continued connection with parents in this population suggests that parenting behaviors may continue to influence TAY. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between perceptions of parental pampering, parental psychological control, inferiority feelings, and substance abuse in TAY using an Adlerian framework. In theory, substance abuse is a manifestation of the pampered lifestyle and inferiority feelings (Adler, 2005; Dreikurs, 1990); however, empirically validated definitions for each of these constructs is lacking in current research. Thus, a secondary aim of the study was to identify appropriate definitions for the latent constructs of pampering and inferiority feelings. Participants in the study consisted of 210 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 25, who were asked to complete a series of instruments measuring perceptions of parental pampering (measured as enabling, autonomy granting, parental care, and parental behavioral control), parental psychological control, feelings of inferiority (measured as self-esteem, general self-efficacy (GSE), abstinence self-efficacy (ASE), and shame), and use of alcohol and drugs. Structural equation modeling was used to examine how well the observed constructs define the latent constructs of pampering and inferiority feelings and to test an overall hypothesized model of the relationships amongst each of the variables. It was posited that pampering would be positively related to inferiority feelings, alcohol use, and drug use, and that inferiority feelings would partially mediate the relationship between pampering and substance abuse. In addition, parental psychological control was expected to positively relate to inferiority feelings. Results of the study indicated that the observed variables enabling, autonomy granting, parental care, and parental behavioral control adequately define the latent construct of pampering, with autonomy granting and parental behavioral control loading more strongly on the latent construct. Similarly, self-esteem, GSE, ASE, and shame were found to define inferiority feelings, with self-esteem and shame loading more strongly than GSE and ASE. These findings provide potential empirical definitions of the theoretical constructs. Findings from the structural regression analysis indicated the model was not a good fit for the data. When examined separately, pampering was negatively related to both types of substance abuse, suggesting that in a college population, perceptions of pampering behaviors may be related to less substance abuse. Conversely, inferiority feelings were not related to either substance abuse in the sample. Average scores for the self-esteem, GSE, and ASE scales were high and average shame scores were low, indicating low feelings of inferiority in the sample. These findings provide an argument for further analysis of the relationship between inferiority feelings and substance abuse in a more clinical sample. Findings garnered from the study provide implications for future research, counseling practice, and counselor training, including highlighting the importance of integrating family factors into prevention and treatment efforts in substance abuse counseling and into the training of substance abuse counselors.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Inferiority, Parenting, Substance Abuse, TAY
College students $x Substance use $z United States
College students $x Drug use $z United States
Parent and teenager $z United States

Email this document to