Research on the Effectiveness of “Teaching” Your Teen to Drink
Posted Feb 16 2011 10:49am
by Lisa Frederiksen
Often parents talk about the reasons for letting their teens drink at home. One reason that regularly comes up often is the desire to “teach” their teen to drink so that when their teen is presented with an opportunity to drink with friends, their teen doesn’t go overboard, either because they view alcohol as the “forbidden fruit” or because they are unfamiliar with how alcohol will affect them. So, these parents allow their teens to drink at home; sometimes even hosting teen parties with alcohol (taking away the car keys, of course) in an attempt to “teach” their teen to drink and thereby keep them safe.
Below is an excerpt of 21st century study findings about the consequences of this approach (one study quoted is as recent as 2010). It is taken from NIAAA’s Underage Drinking Research Initiative paper, titled: “ Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use :”
Some parents wonder whether allowing their children to drink in the home will help them develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. According to most studies this does not appear to be the case. In a study of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, researchers observed that students whose parents allowed them to drink at home and/or provided them with alcohol experienced the steepest escalation in drinking (Komro et al., 2007). Other studies suggest that adolescents who are allowed to drink at home drink more heavily outside of the home (van der Vorst et al., 2010). In contrast, adolescents are less likely to drink heavily if they live in homes where parents have specific rules against drinking at a young age and also drink responsibly themselves (van der Vorst et al., 2006). However, not all studies suggest that parental provision of alcohol to teens leads to trouble. For instance, one study showed that drinking with a parent in the proper context (such as a sip of alcohol at an important family function) can be a protective factor against excessive drinking (Foley et al., 2004). In other contexts, parental provision of alcohol serves as a direct risk factor for excessive drinking, as is the case when parents provide alcohol for parties attended or hosted by their adolescents. Collectively, the literature suggests that permissive attitudes toward adolescent drinking, particularly when combined with poor communication and unhealthy modeling, can lead teens into unhealthy relationships with alcohol.”
NIAAA’s relatively short paper, “ Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use ,” provides a great deal of other important information for parents on this issue, including: the role of genetics and parenting styles, for example, as well as suggestions for what parents can do.