Study links parenting style to drinking
Sunday 28 August 2011
Parenting style is one of the strongest influences on how much alcohol a child will drink as a teenager and young adult, new research has revealed.
Independent think tank Demos found that bad parenting at 16 made children more than eight times more likely to become binge drinkers at that age and twice as likely to drink excessively when they were 34.
While bad parenting at 10 doubled the chances of children bingeing on alcohol in their mid-30s.
Researchers analysed data from more than 15,000 children born in Britain over the last 40 years as part of the study.
They found the "tough love" style of parenting, which combined warmth and discipline, was the most effective in ensuring against children developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Less effective styles were "authoritarian" parents, who set high standards and employ strict discipline, "laissez faire" parents, who are emotionally engaged but do not set rule or boundaries, and those who are "disengaged" with their children.
Demos called on parents and the Government to work together to curb "an entrenched binge drinking culture" among Britain's young people.
It recommended that parents develop a warm and loving relationship in the early years of their children's lives and assert discipline and supervision at the ages of 15 and 16.
Parents should also set firm boundaries, avoid getting drunk in front of their children and not take a relaxed attitude to under-age drinking, the think tank said.
It called on the Government to enforce under-age drinking laws and invest in alcohol-related school programmes that involve parents.
Spreading the six-week summer holiday throughout the year and providing activities for at-risk children was another recommendation Demos made.
Jamie Bartlett, lead author of the report, said: "The enduring impact of parenting on a child's future relationship with alcohol cannot be ignored.
"This is good for parents: those difficult moments of enforcing tough rules really do make a difference, even if it doesn't always feel like that at the time."
"For children whose parents may be disengaged, very practical measures like spreading the school summer holiday throughout the year and providing activities for children in the school breaks, will go some way to preventing boredom and avoiding risky behaviour like under-age drinking."
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