Illusions of Parental Control: Parenting and Smoking Onset in Dutch and Swedish Adolescents1


  • 1

    The first author was supported by a fellowship of the Dutch Organization of Scientific Research during the preparation of this manuscript. A previous version of this paper was presented at the Xth European Conference on Developmental Psychology, August 2001, Uppsala, Sweden. We would like to acknowledge a grant of the Department of Child and Adolescent Studies, Utrecht University, for conducting the study.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rutger C. M. E. Engels, Institute of Family and Child Care Studies, University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Parental control is assumed to be associated with smoking onset: Parents who exert control on their children and monitor their children's behavior are less likely to have children who start to smoke. However, the empirical evidence for this assumption is mostly from cross-sectional studies. The present research examined the prospective associations between parental control and smoking onset among Dutch and Swedish adolescents and their parents. Findings revealed nonsignificant links between general parental control and smoking onset in both samples, and no link between smoking-specific parental control and smoking onset in the Dutch sample, thereby questioning the assumption that parental control prevents adolescent smoking onset.