When it comes to discouraging alcohol consumption among adolescents, parents' attitudes and actions can play a significant role in how much or how often teens drink, according to findings recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
In the study, researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed nearly 5,000 teens about their drinking habits and relationship with their parents. They found:
- The teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.
- So-called "indulgent" parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.
- "Strict" parents-high on accountability and low on warmth-more than doubled their teen’s risk of heavy drinking.
Researchers defined "strict" parents as those who closely monitored their teen's whereabouts and social contacts. They measured "warmth" by asking teens how close they felt to their parents, whether they enjoyed spending time them and if they shared their thoughts and feelings with them.
Curious to know more about the study, I asked Brigham Young University researcher John Hoffmann, PhD, why a parenting style high on both accountability and warmth was most effective in preventing teens from binge drinking. Did the parenting style make teens respect their parents more? Or did teens merely not want to disappoint their parents?
We suspect that both of these play a role. Teens who feel close to their parents and realize that their parents know what they are doing when away from home are less likely to risk a good relationship with parents by drinking heavily. We also found that teens with these types of parents are less likely to have friends who use alcohol, so parenting style can also lessen the likelihood of heavy alcohol use by influencing the choice of friends. We think that teens with these parents are also less likely to choose friends who their parents would disapprove of.
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