Teens and alcohol study: After a few drinks, parenting style kicks in

June 24, 2010

Parents may be surprised, even disappointed, to find out they don't influence whether their teen tries alcohol.

But now for some good news: Parenting style strongly and directly affects when it comes to heavy drinking - defined as having five or more drinks in a row - according to a new Brigham Young University study.

The researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their . Specifically, they examined parents' levels of - knowing where they spend their time and with whom - and the warmth they share with their kids. Here's what 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.
Prior research on parenting style and teen drinking was a mixed bag, showing modest influence at best. Unlike previous research, this study distinguished between any and .

"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.

Bahr, along with co-author John Hoffmann, will publish the study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The also showed that religious teens were significantly less likely to drink at all. That mirrors findings from this 2008 study Bahr and Hoffmann conducted on teen and marijuana use.

Not surprisingly, a teen's peers play an important role on whether a teen consumes any . The BYU researchers note that teens in this new study were more likely to have non-drinking friends if their parents scored high on warmth and accountability.

"The adolescent period is kind of a transitional period and parents sometimes have a hard time navigating that," Bahr said. "Although peers are very important, it's not true that parents have no influence."

For parents, the takeaway is this:

"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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

11 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Coldstatic
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2010
I can say from my expierence that I drank heavily as a teenager because I was bored... same reason i picked up cigarettes at that age too
PhysicsLver21
2 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2010
hahaha ya same here... wasn't because my parents weren't their or horrible role models or were to strict.. i started smoking weed when i was 12, drank for my first time when I was 10 and smoked cigarettes for my first time when i was 12... i was valedictorian of my class, graduated with honors and scored at 1900 on my SAT... lol now tell me how all that has an effect on a childs future? seems to me because i smoked weed and drank at a young age i did really well in school.. hmm... i guess im the exception
xponen
1 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2010
Parent should also teach religious dogma to prevent their teens from consuming alcohol. This is because, the study find; parenting style DOESN'T effect alcohol consumption, but religiosity and peer-pressure did. -Alternatively; one can create some kind of ideology that oppose alcohol consumption, much like how we hated eating insects and worms.
yyz
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2010
PhysicsLver21:

Interesting personal account. Curious if you would promote drug/alcohol use in your preteen children?

xponen:

"Parent should also teach religious dogma to prevent their teens from consuming alcohol"

You do realize this was a study by BYU researchers.
lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2010
A bit hard to figure out how "religiosity" would reduce likelihood of ever even trying alcohol, given that to my knowledge at lest all practicing Catholics and Anglicans at least are given wine as part of every weekly service. Hmmmmm? Define "religious" please.
El_Nose
2 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2010
the better question is how he scored 1900 on a test that has a maximum score of 1600??? I always look critically at people who like to shout their accomplishments when no one asked them, and that is the sole basis for their arguement.

@lenqould

you are right most of the heavily ritualized religions ( Catholic , presbyterian ... ) use real wine ... But most of the Protestant denominations use grape juice and their minister take an active stance against alcohol. I used to think this was wrong to preach from the pulpit because the Bible has so many examples of drinking and it not being wrong or sinful... But I believe now that the ministers know the weaknesses of their individual congregations and having everyone against drinking gives support to those who are really weak and over indulge easily. I think it is to create a supportive environment for not drinking alcohol ... after all constraint in drinking is not a bad thing -- no matter the reasons
VultureTX
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2010
... seems to me because i smoked weed and drank at a young age i did really well in school.. hmm... i guess im the exception


congrats you are likely Bi-polar and needed the drugs to keep you level.
Royale
not rated yet Jun 24, 2010
i agree with physicslvr, of course i was a sophmore in high school before i started any of that, and my SATs were top notch as well (especially since I only took them once and smoked a bowl of hydro to my dome the night before). regardless though, i wouldnt promote any of it, because in college that led to addiction, which luckily past that now, made for a pretty rough couple of years.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2010
Drug use is more widespread than most drug surveys show.

What makes you think a teenager will tell some random adult the truth about their drug use?
Coldstatic
5 / 5 (3) Jun 25, 2010
I do promote drug use... not drug abuse. If someone is curious about drugs let them find out. I smoked marijuanna for quite some time because it worked with ADHD, versus the Adderall or ritalin that I could have been perscribed I saw it as a lesser evil. Kids are going to do these things if they want to, you could tell them they will die the first time they try a drug, that does not get rid of the inate curiosity we humans have.
KBK
not rated yet Jun 26, 2010
I do promote drug use... not drug abuse. If someone is curious about drugs let them find out. I smoked marijuana for quite some time because it worked with ADHD, versus the Adderall or Ritalin that I could have been prescribed I saw it as a lesser evil. Kids are going to do these things if they want to, you could tell them they will die the first time they try a drug, that does not get rid of the innate curiosity we humans have.


"DON'T PRESS THE BIG, SHINY, RED, BUTTON!"
-Ren and Stimpy Show ('Space madness' Episode)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.