How parents influence teen drinking habits


Parents tend to make sure that their children know the dangers of alcohol and are kept away from it for the most part. If a young seven-year-old asked to try her mother’s margarita her mother would likely reply with a firm no. Some parents may avoid drinking around their children altogether. However, as children grow, parents tend to be more relaxed about drinking alcohol around them and are oblivious to the potential harm it could be causing. Turns out, parents’ habits and attitudes towards alcohol will often influence their child’s attitudes and habits.

A study conducted by psychologists from the University of Buffalo found that if parents wish to prevent their adolescents from drinking alcohol, their practices and restrictions on it were the first barrier. Ultimately it isn’t about controlling their child’s decision, but rather helping them to make good choices when alcohol is available.

Lead researcher Craig Colder and his colleagues conducted three annual assessments on children and their parents. These assessments surveyed parents and children regarding the family’s at-home environment and alcohol use. The first assessment took place when the children were 10 to 11 years old. This age is before most adolescents begin experimenting with alcohol. The second assessment was performed a year after the first assessment and the third assessment a year beyond the second assessment.

What researchers found was a connection to a shift in the aspects of parenting and the increases in the adolescent’s alcohol use. Most of the parents had implemented rules and disciplinary action for alcohol use when the children were younger, but tended to be more lenient on these rules as the children got older. The less likely parents would discipline their children over alcohol use, the more likely they would give their children permission to drink. Consequently, this led to a breakdown in communication especially when it came to the consequences of alcohol use. Parents should take note: it may be easy to be more lax about alcohol as children get older, but this is actually the time when guidance is needed the most.

The transition in human development that occurs in adolescence, which includes puberty and an increase in independence, can have some serious adverse effects if an adolescent begins drinking alcohol. According to “Medical Daily,” early alcohol use leads to the deaths of around 5,000 teens under the age of 21 each year. At least 1,900 are motor vehicle accidents, 1,600 are homicide, 300 from suicide and the rest from falls, burns, drowning and other forms of death. It will also affect their personality, brain development and cognitive health. Adverse effects to their physical health can occur as their liver and endocrine system take a hit and their growth is affected. Additionally, adolescent alcohol use increases the chances of risky behavior, higher alcohol tolerance and abuse.

Alcohol abuse among teens should not be taken lightly as the adverse effects it can have on the user can have permanent consequences. Minors who are 12 to 20 years of age drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. While adolescents and teens drink less often, more than 90 percent of their alcohol is consumed through binge drinking. This increases the chances of serious problems, which may put them in the hospital.

For those teens who are struggling with alcohol abuse, the best option is to seek help at a teen treatment center. To learn more about treatment for teen alcohol abuse, please visit or call 866-520-0905 for more information.

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