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.”

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