As younger children grow into adolescence, parents have to be very concerned with peer pressure and the constant threat of underage drinking and other forms of substance abuse that they will likely be exposed to. In fact, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six children have consumed alcohol before they turned 13. Additionally, one in six high school children have binged on alcohol. The younger the age of substance abuse, the increased chances of addition in adulthood.
Parents are the front line defense for their children in helping them make better decisions about drinking and using drugs, and there are many ways they can help prevent substance abuse. Researchers at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont California developed a study that examined the relationship between adolescents and their parents when it came to alcohol consumption.
After analyzing data provided by 9,400 teens and their parents, they were able to find some helpful information, which was published in the journal Prevention Science. The research showed that children who grew up in environments where parents tended not to keep an eye on them or provide emotional support were more likely to engage in binge drinking. They also found that the corollary was true – parents who provided adequate supervision paired with adequate support and warmth were more successful in raising children who did not engage in underage binge drinking.
One important finding that came from this study was that parents who assumed their child was drinking were more likely to have a child experiment with alcohol. This assumption often prevented parents from stepping in and educating or disciplining their children, allowing the alcohol use to continue.
“In the short term, allowing children to try alcohol simply teaches them that parents don’t mind if they have alcohol. In the long term, allowing children to have alcohol increases their odds of underage drinking during adolescence,” explained Christine Jackson, a social ecologist at RTI International in Durham, North Carolina.
A positive outcome of the study that researchers pointed out was that parents were much more willing to be educated about underage drinking. This is encouraging because if parents can change their attitudes and approaches when it comes to alcohol, the children are much better off in the long run, and hopefully preventing situations later in life that would require treatment for a alcohol abuse or addiction problem.