Ethnic Variation in Parenting Characteristics and Adolescent Smoking

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Mental and Social Health | Multicultural Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction



To examine ethnic variation in parenting characteristics and in associations among parenting characteristics and adolescent smoking, and to assess the strength of those associations separately by ethnic subgroup.


Data were collected from a diverse sample (48.4% Hispanic/Latino, 22.9% Asian, 12.1% Non-Hispanic white, and 16.6% Multiethnic) of 1846 Southern California 6th-graders (mean age 11.3 years). Lifetime smoking and parenting characteristics (parental smoking status, adolescents’ perceptions of parent–child communication, and parental monitoring) were assessed. Across ethnic groups, descriptive statistics for parenting and smoking variables were calculated and compared. Logistic regression analyses controlled for demographics (socioeconomic status, generation status, family structure, age, and gender) and interaction terms (parenting characteristics × ethnicity), and were also run separately by ethnicity.


Asian adolescents reported less parental monitoring than Latino/Hispanics and less parental communication than other ethnic subgroups. Odds ratios indicated parental monitoring (OR = .63; CI = .53-.74; p < .001) and parental communication (OR = .73; CI = .62–.86; p < .001) were protective whereas parental smoking (OR = 1.48; CI = 1.18–1.87; p < .01) was a risk factor for smoking. Relative to Latinos, parental monitoring (OR = .50; CI = .26–.95; p < .05) was more protective, and parental communication (OR = 2.44; CI = 1.15–5.17; p < .05) less protective for white adolescents. All parental characteristics were significantly associated with Latino/Hispanics smoking. Parental monitoring was significantly associated with Multiethnic and white smoking. No parenting characteristics were significant for Asians.


Ethnic differences in parenting characteristics and adolescent smoking should be considered when designing prevention curriculum. Future research should investigate the nature of parent–child communication among Asian immigrant populations.

Rights Information

© 2003 Society for Adolescent Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc.