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Parenting style can prevent heavy drinking

world Updated: Jun 24, 2010 16:44 IST
Parenting style

Parenting style strongly and directly affects teenagers when it comes to heavy drinking -- defined as having five or more drinks in a row, says a new Brigham Young University (BYU) study.

The researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the age of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and relationship with their parents.

They examined parents' levels of accountability -- knowing where they spend their time and with whom -- and the warmth they share with their kids. Here's what they found:

-- The teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.

-- “Indulgent” parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.

-- “Strict” parents - high on accountability and low on warmth - more than doubled their teen's risk of heavy drinking.

Prior research on parenting style and teen drinking was a mixed bag, showing modest influence. Unlike previous research, this study distinguished between any alcohol consumption and heavy drinking.

“While parents didn't have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on heavy drinking,” said Stephen Bahr, professor in BYU's College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.

The analysis also showed that religious teens were significantly less likely to drink alcohol. The effect of religiosity mirrors findings from the 2008 study Bahr and Hoffmann conducted on teens' marijuana use, said a university release.

“You need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent. 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 loving relationship,” study co-author John Hoffmann said.

These findings are slated for publication in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.