Parenting Influences Teen Drinking Habits

Parenting can be difficult but studies are being conducted that will provide mothers and fathers with guidelines that might help them improve relations with their teen sons and daughters.

There’s a good chance that telling your teen to never try alcohol will fall on deaf ears. Teens experiment with alcohol and the more you tell them not to drink at parties or with friends, the more likely they may be to defy you.

So how can you effectively parent while making sure your teens aren’t getting drunk every weekend? A new study by Brigham Young University (BYU) found that there are some parenting styles that are more effective when it comes to preventing heavy drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in one outing):

•    Parents with high levels of accountability (knowing where their teens are and who they are with) and warmth generally have teens who are less prone to heavy drinking.
•    Parents who are indulgent (low on accountability and high on warmth) nearly tripled the risk of their teen engaging in heavy drinking.
•    Parents who are strict (high on accountability and low on warmth) more than doubled their teen’s risk of heavy drinking.

“While parents didn’t have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking,” said Stephen Bahr, a professor in BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, and one of the study’s researchers.

The Study

For the study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers surveyed about 5,000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19. They looked at the teens’ drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. The study distinguished between heavy drinking and any alcohol consumption.
Researchers also discovered the following about teens and heavy drinking:

•    Teens were more likely to have non-drinking friends if their parents were high on warmth and accountability.
•    Religious teens were significantly less likely to drink any alcohol.

Decrease Your Teen’s Risk of Binge Drinking

Helping your teen navigate adolescence is often challenging. There are a lot of new experiences they want to have and concerns about fitting in with their friends. As a parent, you are going to have to step in to help your teen learn appropriate behaviors, what’s right and wrong, and how to form a healthy relationship with alcohol.
“Realize you need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent,” Hoffmann said. “Make sure that it’s not just about controlling their behavior — you need to combine knowing how they spend their time away from home with a warm, loving relationship.”

Take time to talk to your teen and find out what they are up to, who they are spending time with, and where they are when they are not at school, work or home. Instead of always acting as a disciplinarian or parenting, establish a relationship with your teen that develops into a friendship.

Always let your teen know that you are there for them and how much you love them, no matter what decisions they make. If they feel respected and cared for, they may be less likely to engage in behaviors like binge drinking that could cause them harm.

Getting Help if It is Necessary

Our drug and alcohol treatment programs are used to helping families navigate the difficult parts of the parent-child relationship.  If you suspect that someone you care about is abusing drugs or alcohol, we highly recommend learning from our website in order to bring up the subject in a constructive manner.

Click here to read more about alcohol abuse and addiction.