Parenting style can curb teenage binge drinking

Children whose parents are both strict and loving are less likely to binge drink, according to research.

A team from an American university questioned over 5,000 young people and found those with “authoritative” parents, those who knew their children’s whereabouts and showed warmth and support, were least likely to drink large quantities of alcohol.

Stephen Bahr, who led the research, said they hoped the study would encourage parents to build a supportive relationship with their children which could steer them away from binge drinking.

Loving

By speaking to children between 12 and 19, the researchers placed parents in four different parenting styles: authoritative defined as loving and very hands on; authoritarian which is strict, but not warm; indulgent which is loving but less likely to discipline; and neglectful.

“Parents who are what we call authoritative, which is to say they monitor kids closely and show a lot of warmth and support, they are less likely to have teens who participate in heavy drinking,” explained Mr Bahr.

The youths who drank less were also more likely to have close friends who were non-drinkers.

Influence

However even if the teenager’s friends did drink, those raised by authoritative parents were still less likely to choose risky behaviours themselves. “Although peers are very important, it’s not true that parents have no influence”, Mr Bahr said.

The research leader also commented that parents had little effect on whether their children drank alcohol, but the parental style could affect whether they binge-drank or not.

The study classified binge drinking as having five or more drinks in a row.

Forgetful

Last month it was revealed that researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that binge drinking could lead to teenagers being forgetful and absent minded in the future.

The research was done on Rhesus monkeys who were given large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time.

Chitra Mandyam, from the Scripps Research Institute, said: “It’s very devastating to see what chronic binge drinking does to the adolescent brain”.

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