teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth

Somehow, I thought this may have been obvious but, then again, sometimes obvious looks us right in the face and we don’t get it.

Researchers are saying that parenting style strongly and directly affects teens when it comes to heavy drinking – defined as having five or more drinks in a row . This is according to a new Brigham Young University study.

I won’t get into too many details here but, they  surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. Specifically, researchers examined parents’ levels of accountability – 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 alcohol consumption and heavy drinking.

“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.

The researchers also say that religious teens were significantly less likely to drink any alcohol. The effect of religiosity mirrors findings from this 2008 study Bahr and Hoffmann conducted on teens’ marijuana use.

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.

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.”

Eight Danger Zones of Teen Drivers

I talked to my teen badge icon

Son reversing car with father giving adviceGetting a driver’s license is an exciting time for a teen. But driving is especially dangerous for young, new drivers. In fact, 11 teens die each day as the result of a car crash. As a parent, you can help keep your teen safe on the road. Make sure your teen is aware of the leading causes of teen crashes and how to avoid them.

  • No. 1—Driver inexperience: Crash rates are highest during the first year a teen has a license. Provide as much supervised driving practice as possible—at least 30 to 50 hours over a period of no less than six months. This will help your teen gain the skill he or she needs. Even when your teen has a full license, it is a good idea to limit his or her driving during risky conditions. These include driving at night, in bad weather, on highways, and with teen passengers. Allow more driving privileges as your teen gains experience and skill.
  • No. 2—Driving with teen passengers: Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. Nearly 2 out of 3 teen crash deaths that involve 16-year-old drivers happen when a new driver has one or more teen passengers. Follow your state’s GDL laws for passenger restrictions. If your state does not have a teen passenger rule, limit the number of teens your child may drive to zero or one. Keep this rule for at least the first 6 months of his or her license.
  • No. 3—Nighttime driving: Nighttime fatal crash rates for 16-year-olds are nearly twice as high as daytime rates. Nighttime driving is risky because it is harder to see at night and people are often tired. Be sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 PM. Stick by this rule for at least the first 6 months of your teen having his or her license.
  • No. 4—Not using seat belts: In 2007, 6 out of 10 teen drivers and 2 out of 3 teen passengers who died in car crashes were not wearing seat belts. The simplest way to prevent motor vehicle crash deaths is to buckle up. Wearing a seat belt will cut your teen’s risk of dying or being badly injured in a crash by about half. Remind your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip—even just for a drive around the corner.
  • No. 5—Distracted driving: Nearly 8 out of 10 crashes happen within 3 seconds of a driver becoming distracted. Common distractions for teen drivers are talking on cell phones, using in-car electronic devices, text messaging, eating, playing with CDs or the radio, and yelling out the window. Forbid all activities that could affect your teen’s driving attention.
  • No. 6—Drowsy driving: Young drivers are at highest risk for drowsy driving, which causes thousands of crashes every year. Other than late at night, teens are most tired and at risk when driving between 6 and 8 in the morning. Be sure your teen is fully rested before he or she gets behind the wheel.
  • No. 7—Reckless driving: Research shows that teens lack the judgment and maturity to assess risky situations. Help your teen to avoid the following unsafe behaviors.
    • Speeding: Make sure your teen knows to follow the speed limit and adjust speed to road conditions.
    • Tailgating: Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle ahead to avoid a crash if a sudden stop is needed.
    • Insufficient scanning: Stress the importance of always knowing the location of other vehicles on the road. Scan ahead before making left turns; to the side when yielding the right of way at intersections; and behind when changing lanes.
  • No. 8—Impaired driving: Of all drivers between 15 and 20 years of age involved in fatal crashes in 2007, nearly 1 out of 3 had been drinking. In the United States, it is illegal for anyone under age 21 to drink alcohol. All states have zero tolerance laws that ban underage drinking and driving. Most states will suspend or cancel the license of a teen who violates these laws. Strictly enforce zero tolerance laws at home, whether or not your teen driver is caught by law enforcement.

Teen Driving- Be Safe

I talked to my teen about safe driving. www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey

According to the CDC, Parents Are the Key to Safe Teen Drivers
Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens and they take over 4,000 young lives every year. The main cause of teen crashes is driver inexperience. All new drivers—even straight-A students and “good kids”—are likelier than experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal crash.

You can make a difference by getting involved with your teen’s driving. Take advantage of the “Parents Are the Key” tools and resources. Learn about the most dangerous driving situations for your young driver—and how to avoid them.

The CDC suggests this;
Talk with your teen about the dangers of driving. Express your concern for his or her safety and well-being.

Extend your teen’s supervised driving period: Include at least 30 to 50 hours of practice over at least six months.
Make sure your teen always wears a seat belt.
Limit your teen’s nighttime driving. Fatal crashes for 16-year-olds happen almost twice as often at night than during the day. Be sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 PM. This is most important during the first 6 months that he or she has a license.
Restrict the number of teen passengers allowed in the car. Nearly 2 out of 3 teen crash deaths involving 16-year-old drivers happen when a new driver has one or more teen passengers.

Participating Organizations

In fall 2009, “Parents Are the Key” was launched in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Columbus, Ohio, with the help of these participating organizations.

AAA Foundation for Traffic SafetyExternal Web Site Icon

American Academy of PediatricsExternal Web Site Icon

Arkansas Department of HealthExternal Web Site Icon

Arkansas PTAExternal Web Site Icon

Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s HospitalExternal Web Site Icon

Franklin County Board of HealthExternal Web Site Icon

Franklin County Safe CommunitiesExternal Web Site Icon

Grant Medical Center, Trauma ProgramExternal Web Site Icon

Heart of Arkansas United WayExternal Web Site Icon

Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital External Web Site Icon

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)External Web Site Icon

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Prevention Research Branch, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Research)External Web Site Icon

National MOST Of Us Institute for Social NormsExternal Web Site Icon

National Safety CouncilExternal Web Site Icon

National Safety Council, Central Ohio ChapterExternal Web Site Icon

Nationwide InsuranceExternal Web Site Icon

Ohio Chapter, American Academy of PediatricsExternal Web Site Icon

Ohio Department of HealthExternal Web Site Icon

Ohio Department of Public SafetyExternal Web Site Icon

Ohio State University Medical Center, Level I Trauma CenterExternal Web Site Icon

Riverside Methodist Hospital Trauma ServicesExternal Web Site Icon

Safety Council of the OzarksExternal Web Site Icon

Somali Community Access Network: SomaliCANExternal Web Site Icon

The Allstate FoundationExternal Web Site Icon

Thompson Defensive Driving Systems External Web Site Icon

University of Maryland, School of Public Health, Department of Public & Community HealthExternal Web Site Icon

YMCA of Central OhioExternal Web Site Icon

YMCA of Metropolitan Little RockExternal Web Site Icon

Crash Facts

Teen drivers are four times likelier to crash than older drivers.
Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. Nearly two out of three teen crash deaths that involve 16-year-old drivers happen when a new driver has one or more teen passengers.
Night-time fatal crash rates for 16-year-olds are nearly twice as high as daytime rates.

Is your teen ready? www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey

Dealing with Adolescence

Also known a the Interdependent Stage

Developmental Milestones

During the early part of adolescence there are many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes going on. We know about the hormonal changes; boys grow facial and pubic hair and their voices deepen, girls grow pubic hair and breasts, and start menstruating.

At this age, teens make more of their own choices about friends, sports, studying, and school. They become more independent, with their own personality and interests.

Some changes younger teens go through are:

  • Emotional/Social Changes
  • More concern about body image, looks, and clothes.
  • Focus on self, going back and forth between high expectations and lack of confidence.
  • Moodiness
  • More interest in and influence by peer group.
  • Less affection shown toward parents. May sometimes seem rude or short-tempered.
  • Anxiety from more challenging school work.
  • Eating problems sometimes start at this age.
  • Mental/Cognitive Changes
  • More ability for complex thought.
  • Better able to express feelings through talking.
  • A stronger sense of right and wrong.
  • Many teens sometimes feel sad or depressed which can lead to poor grades at school, alcohol or drug use, unsafe sex, and other problems

Experts say :

  • Show affection for your teenager. Spend time together doing things you enjoy.
  • Respect your teenager’s opinion. Listen to him without playing down his concerns.
  • Encourage your teenager to volunteer and become involved in civic activities in her community.
  • Encourage your teenager to develop solutions to problems or conflicts.
  • Help your teenager learn to make good decisions.
  • Create opportunities for him to use his own judgment, and be available for advice and support.
  • If your teenager works, use the opportunity to talk about expectations, responsibility, and other aspects of behaving respectfully in a public setting.
  • Talk with your teenager and help him plan ahead for difficult or uncomfortable situations. Discuss what he can do if he is in a group and someone is using drugs, under pressure to have sex, or offered a ride from someone who has been drinking.
  • Respect your teenager’s need for privacy.
  • Encourage your teenager to get enough sleep and exercise, and to eat healthy, balanced meals.
  • Encourage your teenager to have meals with the family. Eating together will help your teenager make better choices about the foods she eats, promote healthy weight, and give family members time to talk with each other.

For more information on adolescent mental health, visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/depchildmenu.cfm.

For information on healthy eating and exercise for children and teenagers, visit http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/.

Being a Parent

Believe it or not, even though it seems as if your teen seeks independence, trust and support from you is important too.    Experts say you need to be  honest and direct with your teenager when talking about sensitive subjects such as drugs, drinking, smoking, and sex.

Encourage your teenager to get exercise.  Eating together helps teenagers make better choices about the foods they eat, promotes healthy weight, and gives your family time to talk to each other.

Other tips include:

  • Meet and get to know your teenager’s friends.
  • Show an interest in your teenager’s school life.
  • Help your teenager make healthy choices while encouraging him to make his own decisions.
  • Respect your teenager’s opinions and take into account her thoughts and feelings. It is important that she knows you are listening to her.

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