Parents giving alcoholic drinks to their adolescents? Is this a good idea? Research suggests it is.
Some adolescents get their first drink from friends or others. Others get it from their parents. The latter group has fewer later alcohol-related problems. That includes heavy episodic drinking or so-called “bingeing.”
That shouldn’t be surprising. It’s the typical southern European tradition. Some societies have very high rates of drinking. Yet they have very low rates of alcohol-related problems. Such societies have certain things in common. One is that in these groups young people learn about moderate drinking. And they learn it from their parents at an early age.
Indeed, our current prohibition against any and all youth consum is radical. And it’s radical both historically and cross-culturally.
Researchers studied 608 14- to 17-year-olds from a national survey in Australia. They used data on source of first drink, age at first drink, and source of current alcohol. Also current drinking patterns, and proportion of current friends who drink.
Adolescents whose parents who gave them their first drink were more responsible drinkers. They also had fewer alcohol-related problems.
The authors suggest that parents giving their offspring their first drink may reduce drinking problems.
The findings are consistent with other research. For example, teenagers who drank with their parents were less likely to have either recently consumed alcohol or abused it. That’s the finding of a nation-wide study of over 6,200 teenagers in 242 communities across the U.S.
And teenagers who drink alcohol with their parents are less likely to drink heavily. That’s the finding of research among 10,000 students aged 15 and 16 in 130 schools in England.
Dr. Mark Bellis led the English study and heads the Public Health Centre. He said “The majority of people who are drinking at early ages are not then going on to be problem drinkers later in life.” Dr. Bellis added “The real issues are around people understanding alcohol, learning about alcohol, being set a good example by their parents.”
Dr. Bellis observed that “The majority of people, by the age of 14, 15 or 16, have drunk alcohol. The question is are they learning to drink from their parents, in a socially responsible environment. Or are they learning behind the bushes in a park or in a bar?” The health leader emphasized that “The chances are, if they are in the latter position, they are learning to binge-drink.”
It appears better to learn drinking in the parents’ house instead of a fraternity house.
Resources: Parents Giving Alcoholic Drinks May Reduce Alcohol-Related Problem
- Kelly, A., et al. Evidence that parental provision may reduce later heavy episodic drinking, Euro Addict Res, 18(3), 140-48.
- This site gives no advice. That includes the finding that parents giving alcoholic drinks may reduce alcohol-related problems.