Underage Drinking in Restaurants & Bars

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

Seven states in the U.S. permit persons under age 21 to drink alcoholic beverages in restaurants and bars with their parents.

These states recognize something important to reducing alcohol abuse: Societies and groups in which young people learn to drink with their parents tend to have lower rates of drinking-related problems.

Recent research sponsored by the federal government documents the effectiveness of drinking with parents. The nation-wide study of 6,200 teenagers across the U.S. found that those who drank alcohol with their parents were less likely than other to have either consumed alcohol or abused it.

Drinking alcohol with parents “may help teach them responsible drinking habits or extinguish some of the ‘novelty’ or ‘excitement’ of drinking” according to senior researcher Dr. Kristie Long Foley of the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dr. Foley describes drinking with parents as a “protective” behavior.

The study was funded by the National Evaluation of the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program.


  • Foley, Kristie Long, et al. Adults’ approval and adolescents’ alcohol use. Journal of Adolescent Healthy, 2004, 35(4), 345-346.


  • Bales, R. F. Cultural differences in rates of alcoholism. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1946, 6, 480-499.
  • Blane, H. T. Acculturation and drinking in an Italian-American community. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1977, 38, 1324-1346.
  • Field, P. B. A New Cross-Cultural Study of Drunkenness. In: Pittman, D. J., and Snyder, C. R. Society, Culture, and Drinking Patterns. New York: Wiley, 1962.
  • Hanson, David J. Preventing Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol, Culture and Control. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995.
  • Heath, D. B. Cultural Variations among Drinking Patterns. In: Grant, M., and Litvak, J. (Eds.). Drinking Patterns and their Consequences. Washington: Taylor & Francis, 1998. Pp. 103-125.
  • Heath, D. B. (Ed.). International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.
  • Heath, D. B. Cross-Cultural Studies of Alcohol Use. In: Galanter, M. (Ed.). Recent Developments in Alcoholism. Vol. 2. New York: Plenum, 1984.
  • Helzer, J. E., and Canino, G. J. (Eds.). Alcoholism in North America, Europe, and Asia. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Holyfield, L., Ducharme, L. J., and Martin, J. K. Drinking contexts, alcohol beliefs, and patterns of alcohol consumption: Evidence for a comprehensive model of problem drinking. Journal of Drug Issues, 1995, 25, 783-798.
  • Leland, J. Firewater Myths: North American Indian Drinking and Alcohol Addiction. (Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, Monograph No. 11) New Brunswick, NJ: 1976.
  • Levine, H. G. Temperance Cultures: Alcohol as Problem in Nordic and English-speaking Cultures. In: Lender, M. And Edwards, G. (Eds.). The Nature of Alcohol and Drug-Related Problems. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1992. Pp. 16-36.
  • MacAndrew, C., and Edgerton, R. B. Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation. Chicago: Aldine, 1969.
  • McGue, M. et al. Origins and consequences of age at first drink. I. Associations with substance-use disorders, disinhibitory behavior and psychopathology, and P3 amblitude. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2001, 8, 1156-1165.
  • Marshall, M. (Ed.). Beliefs, Behaviors and Alcoholic Beverages: A Cross-Cultural Survey. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1979.
  • Pernanen, K. Alcohol in Human Violence. New York: Guilford Press, 1991.
  • Room, R. The impossible dream? Routes to reducing alcohol problems in a temperate culture. Journal of Substance Abuse, 1992, 4, 91-106.
  • Snyder, C. R. Alcohol and the Jews: A Cultural Study of Drinking and Sobriety. (Rutgers Center on Alcohol Studies, Monograph No. 1) Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958.
  • Stivers, R. A Hair of the Dog: Irish Drinking and American Stereotype. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976.