Parenting style strongly affects drinking, Demos says

 
Teenager drinking Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than twice the daily recommended allowance in a sitting

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Parenting style is one of the strongest influences on how a child drinks as a young adult, a study suggests.

Independent think tank Demos studied data based on about 15,000 children born in the UK in the last 40 years.

It found that a "tough love" style of parenting was the best way to ensure children drank more responsibly when they were aged between 16 and 34.

The research also suggests that being too authoritarian with children could be as ineffectual as being too casual.

Warm and affectionate

Researchers found that the best approach was for parents to be warm and affectionate until the age of 10 and then combine this with more discipline. Then at ages 15 to 16 there should be more supervision.

It found high levels of parental attachment when children were aged under five significantly reduced the chances of them drinking excessively later in life.

Demos's parenting types

  • Authoritarian: Set absolute standards, value obedience and structure over freedom and exploration
  • Tough love: Expect children to conform to rules that can be negotiated. Encourage autonomy in decision making
  • Laissez-faire: Emotionally engaged but tend to abrogate responsibility for setting rules. Few standards imposed
  • Disengaged: Uninvolved emotionally with their children. Do not structure activities or set boundaries

It studied data gained from questioning of parents on two broad areas - warmth and discipline.

When their children were young, parents were asked about how much time they spent with them and whether they ate meals together, among other questions.

Regarding discipline, they were asked whether they knew where their teenage children were in the evenings, how often household rules were broken, and other questions.

When the children reached adulthood, they were asked about alcohol consumption.

Report author Jamie Bartlett said that parenting which combined high levels of both warmth and discipline "results in the child overall in their lives achieving lots of positive things - well-being, responsibility, efficacy, and responsible alcohol consumption is one of them.

"This isn't just about alcohol, but it's one of those things that's affected by parenting styles."

Government action urged

Demos's study found bad parenting at 16 made children more than eight times more likely to drink excessively at that age and over twice as likely to binge drink when they were 34.

Its report says parents should discuss alcohol with their children and set firm boundaries on drinking, avoid being drunk around them and actively ensure they develop sensible expectations of consumption.

It says ensuring teenagers do not have easy access to alcohol at home and monitoring drinking in the home environment is another important element of a tough love approach.

Start Quote

Those difficult moments of enforcing tough rules really do make a difference, even if it doesn't always feel like that at the time.”

End Quote Jamie Bartlett Demos report author

The think tank recommends that parents take a lead role in dealing with "an entrenched binge drinking culture" in Britain with government support.

The government should enforce under-age drinking laws - in partnership with local authorities and retailers - so that alcohol boundaries are clear, it says.

Investment should also be made in alcohol-related school programmes involving parents, the report says.

Activities for at-risk children are also important during school holidays when there can be more opportunities to engage in binge drinking, Demos says.

Mr Bartlett said the impact of parenting on children's future drinking "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."

Data used in Demos's study came from the 1970 British Cohort Study.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 81.

    Good parenting is hard work, especially being consitent and responding to positive behaviour as equally as the negative.

    Plus, as another poster pointed out - there is too much 'glamourised' alcohol advertising. Characters in films and entertainment are usually drinking when they have problems or drinking to socialise.

    If positive images affect us - then surely negative ones do? Complex.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    @74. roger
    Well it’s true that parenting has a lot to do with it, but the biggest problem is the availability of alcohol...........

    Sweden has very stringent controls over the sale of alcohol and it is expensive compared to the UK. Other than beer you can only buy it at State stores and you have to be 20 years old.
    Yet Sweden has a chronic problem of binge drinking and alcoholism.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    Of course bad parenting produces bad kids, anyone with any common sense knows this. I`ve known families where the kids were more grown up than the parents, but there are external factors also. Like smoking, peer pressure plays a big part in a childs life. They like to feel they belong and as a consequence are open to manipulation and will conform just to be part of something.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 78.

    69. "Far better for them to see their parents drinking responsibly, and when they are old enough, allow them to have a drink with their parents."

    You mean living responsibly, right ? Is it possible to even imagine parents not drinking ? Or is that not possible ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 77.

    Most people take drugs (including alcohol) in order to get "out of it".
    Why ?
    Well, as children, we go to school every day to prepare for a future where we will go on to achieve great things.
    Yet from all quarters there are endless gloomy reports - wars, unemployment, rising prices, the falling probability of affording the shinies on TV.
    No one enjoys a futile life. So we escape to stay sane.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    The main blame for the abuse of aclohol in the country must lay with the government, yes parents can have a strong influence on teenage drinking, both positive or negative, but the fact the government is unwilling to do anything constructive to help curb the abuse of aclohol and help society improve, shows total irresponsibility by both the government and the voter for electing these people.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    I love the idea, frequently expressed here, that anyone who drinks does so because they are too weak-willed not to. It reminds me of Bridget Jones' surprise at being told that eating is a perfectly normal, even necessary, activity rather than a sign of weakness.

    I drink because I enjoy it. I stop when I've had enough. I shall continue to do so until the killjoys ban it...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 74.

    Well it’s true that parenting has a lot to do with it, but the biggest problem is the availability of alcohol which is readily available to everyone. People now can afford drinks far more than they used so abuse will go up. One way would be to limit availability and give kids some focus on sport or other activities. And also stop making it cool to drink

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    @67. Tom C
    this is news? its been known for decades if not centuries

    Agreed. I expect a publicly funded report tell be released shortly informing us that the earth is not flat. No doubt we will have a HYS on that too.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 72.

    70.Manchester Lizard
    2 Minutes ago
    My brother is 13 months older than me, we were bought up my the same parents in the same house. Yet I've always been sensible with alcohol and don't drink much, and my brother drinks loads and always has. Our Mum was very authoritarian and our father was more tough love, explain that one?
    ==
    Your parents learnt from mistakes with you elder sibling?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 71.

    JWoof's offering of an anecdote as evidence against this report shows their total lack of engagement with the presuppositions of this report; the model of parenting offered REDUCES the chances of problems with inappropriate drinking - but doesn't remove it. It may still occur.

    To be thoroughly controversial - 'high attachment before the age 5 as desirable suggests working mums may be a problem...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    My brother is 13 months older than me, we were bought up my the same parents in the same house. Yet I've always been sensible with alcohol and don't drink much, and my brother drinks loads and always has. Our Mum was very authoritarian and our father was more tough love, explain that one?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 69.

    As soon as you tell kids that "alcohol is bad" they will instantly rebel. It's in their nature to want to try forbidden fruit.

    Far better for them to see their parents drinking responsibly, and when they are old enough, allow them to have a drink with their parents.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 68.

    45% of marriages end in divorce, it's unknown how many unmarried couples break up, probably a higher percentage. Children from these families will suffer far more than a family with both parents who like a drink or two. My wife and I drink, our kids had access to alcohol at an early age, one is nearly tea total, the others drink occasionally, and far less than their friends from stricter parents.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 67.

    this is news? its been known for decades if not centuries

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 66.

    Sounds like Wrmwd73 is trying to vindicate him/herself? Maybe a bit of self-examination is needed there? Too easy to get defensive and wash your hands of responsibility (though I know it seems to be the preferred way these days). Many alcoholics drink because they are deeply unhappy and are looking to escape. Ask yourself why that maybe rather than burying your head.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 65.

    I find this article very superficial. I have had to work very hard to stop an adult child drinking at weekends. We have nurtured, been warm, affectionate and given tough love. But when alcohol and peer pressure are available 24/7 we are up against the odds. The pubs should close at 11pm as they used to. Let the the Government show some tough love to society.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 64.

    yet again its all the parent fault when will the BBC realise its not just parents but peer pressures as teenagers grow up that take an even bigger part in how much they drink. Because you can be sure as night follows day no matter what parents teach their children if they fall in with friends as late teenagers who do drink lots they are more likely to binge drink than if they dont.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 63.

    Wow, "parenting style has direct on child behaviour shocker". How big was the grant for that incredible insight. The revolution will not be subsidised.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 62.

    My parents were textbook authoritarians, and, due to having demanding jobs and little money, hugely stressed on top of it. They don't drink and never have, but managed to produce three alcoholic kids. So-called 'bad' parents will always be around. Better, perhaps, to focus on making schools a place for alcohol education? Research repeatedly shows the positive influence of good education.

 

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