Friends as a Bridge to Parental Influence: Implications for Adolescent Alcohol Use

Daniel T. Ragan, D. Wayne Osgood, Mark E. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The current study investigates the possibility that friendship networks connect adolescents to influence from a broader group of adults beyond their own families. In doing so, we combine two rich traditions of research on adult influence on children and adolescents. Family research has suggested a number of ways in which effective parenting can reduce deviant behavior among adolescents. In addition, research on neighborhoods has advanced the idea that adults outside the immediate family can exert social control that may reduce deviance. We employ longitudinal social network analysis to examine data drawn from the PROSPER Peers Project, a longitudinal study of adolescents following over 12,000 students in 27 non-metropolitan communities as they moved from sixth through ninth grade. We find evidence that the behavior of friends' parents is linked, both directly and indirectly, to adolescent alcohol use. Findings suggest that much of the influence from friends' parents is mediated through peer behavior, but that parental knowledge reported by friends continues to be associated with alcohol use even when controlling for competing mechanisms. Furthermore, adolescents tend to choose friends who report similar levels of parenting as themselves. Our results provide support for the position that friendships in adolescence connect youth to a broader network of adults and illustrate how adults outside the family contribute to the social control of adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1085
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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