Parental Gambling, Parenting Characteristics, and Adolescent Gambling Problems

Parental gambling problems, low levels of parental monitoring, and ineffective parenting practices can put adolescents at risk for gambling problems, according to a study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The study was conducted by Julie Vachon, Frank Vitaro, Brigitte Wanner, and Richard E. Tremblay of the University of Montreal and published in 2004.

In their study, Vachon and her colleagues administered questionnaires to 938 Canadian adolescents and both their parents to assess their frequency of gambling and gambling-related problems.

In addition, adolescents completed a questionnaire designed to assess the degree to which their parents were aware of their activities (parental monitoring) and measured the use of inadequate disciplinary practices. They also completed a questionnaire designed to evaluate their levels of impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Parents completed an additional questionnaire that measured their socio-economic status.

According to Vachon and her colleagues,

The findings revealed that both parents’ gambling frequencies were significantly, albeit modestly, related to adolescents’ own gambling frequency, but not to their gambling problems. This may indicate that parents’ gambling frequencies play a role in the early stages of youth gambling involvement. However, other risk factors may have to be taken into account to understand the presence of problematic behaviors in adolescents.

As Vachon and her colleagues go on to explain, one of these risk factors is the parents own gambling problems. This was especially true of fathers, but the association between parental gambling problems and adolescent gambling problems was not as strong for mothers.

Gambling chipsFurthermore, both low parental monitoring and high levels of inadequate disciplinary practices were associated with adolescent gambling problems.

The above results were found even when taking socio-economic status, gender, and impulsivity/hyperactivity into consideration.

Vachon and her colleagues suggest that, “prevention efforts should target parents’ awareness of the impact on their children of their own gambling behaviors, as well as their parenting skills.”


Vachon, J., Vitaro, F., Wanner, B. & Tremblay, R.E. (2004). Adolescent gambling: relationships with parent gambling and parenting practices. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 18, No 4: 398-401.