News: Parenting linked to teen drinking habits, study

While you may not be able to stop your teen from trying alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age,

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While you may not be able to stop your teen from trying alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age, your parenting style may influence how many pints they’re downing, according to a new report published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Researchers Stephen Bahr and John Hoffmann of Brigham Young University surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents from grade seven to 12. Teens were asked about their drinking habits, as well as their relationships with their parents and friends. According to the report, “The purpose of this research was to examine whether authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful parenting styles were associated with adolescent alcohol use and heavy drinking.” Bahr and Hoffman put particular emphasis on warmth (how warm the parents were with their children) and accountability (knowing who their children were hanging out with and what they were doing).

The results showed that parents who were "indulgent," or big on warmth, but not so much on accountability (think, the "best friend" parent) tripled the risk of heavy drinking in their child, while parents who were "authoritarian," or overly strict’high on accountability but low when it came to warmth’doubled their child’s risk. Teens whose parents had high levels of both warmth and accountability were the least likely to indulge in heavy drinking. This parenting style was classified as "authoritative."

The message? When it comes to parenting, it’s all about balance. Show your children warmth, but also know what’s going on in their lives. While you can’t pick your child’s friends, you can set a good example that may influence them to gravitate towards certain kinds of people. ‘The adolescent period is kind of a transitional period and parents sometimes have a hard time navigating that,’ Bahr said in a news release. ‘Although peers are very important, it’s not true that parents have no influence.’ In the case of this study, teens whose parents were authoritative were actually less likely to have friends who drank heavily.

‘Realize you need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent,’ said Hoffman, in a news release. ‘Make sure that it’s not just about controlling their behaviour’you need to combine knowing how they spend their time away from home with a warm, loving relationship.’

What parenting style has been most effective for you? Do you think this study will change the way you approach your relationship with your child?

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