How Your Parenting Style Can Prevent Teen Binge Drinking

cleared2drive mother yelling at teenager how to stop drunk driving how to stop binge drinking Researchers at Brigham Young University

What Parenting Sytle Do You Use?

If you are the parent of teenagers and you are concerned about them developing an alcohol problem, your parenting style may have more influence that you think. As promised, Cleared2Drive is dedicating this week to helping parents of teenagers.  As such, we uncovered a study of almost 5,000 adolescents has found that different styles of parenting produce significantly different results when it comes to heavy drinking by teens.

Parents may have little influence over whether their teens tried alcohol, but they can have a huge influence on whether or not they binge drink, the researchers found.

Researchers at Brigham Young University asked 4,983 adolescents between age 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. As a result, the researchers identified four parenting styles:

  • Authoritative Parents – Rank high in discipline and monitoring (accountability) and high in support and warmth.
  • Authoritarian Parents – Rank high in control, but low in warmth and support.
  • Indulgent Parents – Rank high in warmth and support, but low in accountability.
  • Neglectful Parents – Rank low in support, warmth, and accountability.

The researchers, Stephen Bahr and John Hoffmann, describes accountability as parents “knowing where they spend their time and with whom” and describe support and warmth as parents who have a loving relationship with their teens.

Teen Less Likely to Binge Drink

It comes as no surprise that teens whose parents scored high on both accountability and warmth were less likely to binge drink:

  • Teens of authoritative parents were less likely to drink heavily compared with all the other parenting styles.
  • Teens with indulgent parents, who scored low on accountability but high on warmth, were nearly triple the risk of binge drinking.
  • Teens with strict parents, who scored high on accountability but low on warmth, were twice as likely to drinking heavily.

For the purpose of the study, heavy drinking was defined as having five or more drinks in a row during a relatively short period of time.

The researchers found that none of the parenting styles had significant differences in terms of their teens trying alcohol, but did influence the more risky binge drinking.

“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.” The bottom line for parents is if you want to have a positive influence on your teen’s decisions regarding substance abuse, it takes work – having both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescents.

The worse thing you can do is be neglectful in your parenting, the researchers concluded.

Source: Bahr, S.J., et al. “Parenting Style, Religiosity, Peers, and Adolescent Heavy Drinking.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. July 2010.

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