Parental Drinking Encourages Youth Alcohol Use, Hurts Discipline
Older adolescents’ drinking decisions are strongly influenced by their parents’ drinking habits, and parents who drink often suffer breakdowns in monitoring youth alcohol use, the Washington Post reported Feb. 4th 2008.
Finnish researchers studied more than 4,700 male and female adolescents and their parents, questioning the teens about their alcohol use at ages 14 and 17.5 and querying parents about their current rates of alcohol use and intoxication and alcohol-related problems over their lifetime.
Researchers found that parental monitoring and discipline played a stronger role in drinking behaviors among the younger youths, whereas parental drinking habits had a stronger effect on the older teens, who often increased their drinking when parents attempted to discipline them.
“With respect to individual aspects of parenting, our analyses show that parental alcohol use, intoxication, and problem-drinking symptoms are consistently associated with decreases in monitoring and increases in discipline,” Latendresse said. “Decreases in monitoring are related to higher levels of adolescent alcohol use at age 14 and more frequent intoxication at both 14 and 17.5. Likewise, increases in discipline are linked to more frequent use and intoxication but only when adolescents are 17.5.”
“It is important to note that excessive discipline may actually have the unintended effect of conveying greater risk for alcohol-related behaviors among adolescents as they get older and are seeking a greater sense of autonomy,” Latendresse added.
The research was published in the February 2008 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.