Parents’ Cannabis-Related Attitudes and Emerging Adult Offspring Cannabis Use: Testing the Mediating Effect of Perceived Parental Approvaledit
Background: Contrary to parental alcohol use and expectancies work, little is known about how parent’s cannabis use (CU) and expectancies influence offspring CU. This is a notable gap in the literature given increasing acceptability and use of cannabis, especially among emerging adults (EA). Moreover, limited work has tested mechanisms of transmission of risk from these parent factors. This study addresses these gaps by testing prospective associations of parental CU and expectancies with offspring CU and CU problems, and perceived parental approval of offspring CU as a potential mediator. Method: A community sample of 314 EA and caregiver dyads completed three annual assessments (mean age = 19.13). The sample was 54% female and majority White/non-Hispanic (76%). Caregivers reported on their cannabis expectancies and use, and EA reported on their CU, CU-related problems, and perceived parental approval of CU. Results: Longitudinal structural equation modeling supported a mediated pathway such that high parental positive cannabis expectancies were associated with perceived parental approval of CU, which in turn, predicted increases in EA CU and CU problems. Parental negative expectancies had a significant indirect effect but in the opposite direction. Indirect effects were found above and beyond parental CU, which was not associated with offspring CU. Conclusions: This is the first study to test prospective indirect effects of parental cannabis expectancies on offspring CU. Findings suggest parents’ attitudes, even in the absence of parental use, confer risk for offspring use by shaping perceived acceptance of CU, suggesting parental expectancies as targets for parent-based CU interventions.