With Drinking, Parent Rules Do Affect Teens' Choices

<p>The studies cited in this piece seem to debunk the conventional wisdom, sometimes reflected in comments on this board, that forbidding underage drinking at home somehow leads to binge drinking. It also questions the validity of the "European Model," that is, allowing kids to drink at home "removes the mystery" and thereby leads to less binge drinking.</p>

<p>Finally, the article includes some very sobering research on the effects that alcohol can have on the still-developing teenage brain.</p>

<p>With</a> Drinking, Parent Rules Do Affect Teens' Choices : NPR</p>

<p>The European model results are surprising.</p>

<p>Finally..... something we've done right. :)</p>

<p>Finally...something we've done wrong.</p>

<p>Next year someone will publish a report to say the opposite. I think that did happen with whether to eat eggs or not, birth control pills, cholesterol pills, bounce (causes cancer), cell phones, scan machine at airports...Aren't professors required to publish papers every year?</p>

<p>Anyone who follows the annual stories of drunken debauchery among young people in the UK wouldn't be surprised by this article. Those of us who like to set the bar high and prohibit (to the extent possible) risky behavior have been borderline vilified over the past decade. We're called naive and out-of-touch; we don't "get it" or "understand". At the very least, this article should force those who ridicule our approach to acknowledge at least the possibility that there is method to our madness; by setting the bar high, when your children fall just a little short, they far exceed the standards of those who set the bar low.</p>

<p>That said, I'd be curious as to the controls and background data on this particular study. I'd bet that there is a significant correlation between how much alcohol the parents use and the level of their children's binge drinking. Does the study make allowance for this?</p>

<p>The prevalence of binge drinking makes me shake my head. Unfortunately, it's such a part of "the college atmosphere/life" that I don't know what can be done to change it. Parents making this rule or that rule may increase the odds a kid won't drink, but at the same time there are so many kids who will binge drink no matter what rules they grew up with. I think any changes in the college atmosphere will be gradual and take a few generations, simply because getting completely sloshed on a regular basis is so accepted (and even expected!) in college.</p>

<p>Since Americans have a lot of binge drinking amongst its youth, I doubt we've done anything right.</p>

<p>I still go with the European model. It's worked in my family for years...all moderate drinkers...no alcoholism. Wine with dinner, champagne at weddings, new years, Christmas and Easter, and rarely hard alcohol.</p>

<p>I second mom2. My sister and I have been drinking moderately with the family since we were five. Both of us are in high school now and neither of us have ever gotten completely drunk. We've both drank at parties(won't pretend to be saints), but never to the point of ridiculousness. Friends with strict rules are the first ones to pound 6 shots in a row.</p>

<p>I told my daughter that I will know that she is drinking a lot at college if she gains a lot of weight and that she will be responsible for getting herself new clothes. (She is very careful about what she eats, mainly eats lean meats, fruits and vegetables and limits her sweets, which is a weakness, and exercises regularly. She is adamant that she will not gain the freshman 15. Anyway, I am hoping her pride in staying fit and in doing well academically will limit her alcohol use.)</p>

<p>I third mom2. Also speihei makes a great point regarding the level of parental drinking. Seeing your parents and extended family drinking moderate amounts of wine with dinner is far different than parents and their friends getting drunk every weekend and more.</p>

<p>I drink a few cups a year at the most (I usually only drink a few oz a year). Kids don't drink at all. My wife has several bottles a year. I have a negative reaction to red wines and don't like the taste of most whites. Son doesn't drink because he doesn't see why people put alcohol in their bodies willingly. I don't know why my daughter doesn't drink. She has some similar allergies to mine and that may be the reason.</p>

<p>I think the lack of us drinking in the household has resulted somewhat in training by the behavior that they observe.</p>

<p>The parents also have to model responsible and moderate drinking behavior. Our kids know that we don't drink and drive...ever. We don't do "shooters"...we don't pound drinks..</p>

<p>I agree with the European model in theory, but in my experience it doesn't work in practice. The students I know who drink the most are the ones whose parents know that their children drink but never really set boundaries and never talked to their children about the potential consequences of drinking.</p>

<p>The real problem, I think, is the glamorization of alcohol. Having a drink for a special occasion, or when it tastes good with your food, shows that alcohol is one option you have. But the way that most high school and college students I know drink - to get drunk - is not only more likely to lead to awful consequences, but it's not fun. All that cheap, crappy liquor tastes terrible, and it's not a pleasant experience.</p>

<p>IMO, parents demonstrating responsible drinking and presenting alcohol as an option, but not as something that in and of itself is a good time (a la the European model) but also stressing that even a moderate amount of alcohol can lead to negative consequences (a la the American way) is the way to go.</p>

<p>I think this is more a function of having stated expectations and modeling desired behavior.</p>

<p>I am the "ours" in a his, hers and ours family. In both of my parents' previous marriages, the spouse and their families were drinkers, somewhere between heavy and moderate. Both my brother and sister married people who came from families who were heavy to moderate drinkers. They both have kids who are married or in long term relationships with heavy to moderate drinkers. My brother's kids were binge drinkers from their early teens. My sister's daughter married a guy who was a heavy drinker. Both of her children, 22 and 19, have been drinkers since their early teens. She is divorced from their father and in a long term relationship with a guy who is a moderate drinker. They all drink every day, except the youngest, who mostly binge drinks on weekends. </p>

<p>My parents were special occasion drinkers. I drank a bit in high school and college, but never more than a drink or two. I am a special occasion drinker, as is my (Italian) husband. His family drank wine with dinner every night, adults and teens alike and he did his fair share of drinking in high school and college. My kids, 24 and almost 18, do not drink. I always told them that underage drinking was illegal and I strongly discouraged them from engaging in this behavior, even though a lot of their friends did. My son did drink a bit as a freshman in college, but that was about it. My daughter is an athlete and doesn't really have time to party nor the inclination. I am sure she will drink at some point in time, but I doubt she will ever be a binge drinker.</p>

<p>I think some of the binge drinking behavior is genetics, some of it is a lack of expectation by the parents that the kids will not engage in underage drinking. And a big part of it is what the kids see growing up. It is pretty hard to tell a kid not to drink when their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends all drink, all the time. </p>

<p>We recently went to a birhday party for a two year old relative. The party was held in a public park, at the "tot lot" pavillion. My daughter was absolutely appalled that nearly all the adults and most of the teenagers were drinking! And not just a beer or two. There were a dozen or more bottles of hard liquor on the picnic table, right next to the Elmo birthday cake. She started asking to leave just a few minutes after we got there, after driving nearly two hours. To avoid a family war, we stayed until the cake was cut, but my daughter couldn't get out of there fast enough! On the way home she asked me what would have happened if the cops had come, would she have gotten in trouble for being there, even though she wasn't drinking, since there were quite a few underaged kids there who were drinking. I told her she would not have been in trouble, because I was there, but I was happy that she was worried about it.</p>

<p>
[quote]
"The parents who are more accepting of teen drinking in high school were more likely to have children who engaged in risky drinking behaviors in college, compared to those children who had parents that were less accepting," Abar says. The researchers also asked the teens about their parents' drinking patterns and found that parents' own drinking behavior influenced a teen's later alcohol use.

[/quote]

My own observations align with the conclusions of this study. The heavy-drinking kids I know have parents who believe alcohol is a normal part of college life. These parents often drank heavily in college themselves and generally think it's no big deal.</p>

<p>Yes, there is the occasional teen who rebels against a super-strict upbringing and goes wild in college. But the majority of heavy drinkers seem to have parents who genuinely believe this is absolutely normal behavior, and furthermore, alcohol is often an important part of the parents' own social activities.</p>

<p>NPR's radio show This American Life had an episode called "#1 Party School" about student drinking at Penn State. I know nothing about Penn State, but the campus culture matches many other schools around the country. I found it interesting and relevant that the parents interviewed in this story were tailgating with their kids.
#1</a> Party School | This American Life</p>

<p>@teenage_cliche, what a mature post for someone of your age!</p>

<p>
[quote]
The heavy-drinking kids I know have parents who believe alcohol is a normal part of college life. These parents often drank heavily in college themselves and generally think it's no big deal.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I have found the same to be true, but would also say that the heavy drinking kids I know have parents who believe alcohol is a normal part of life, not just college life. I find very few surprises among the parents of kids who are problem drinkers. The parents may have given lip service to not wanting the kids to drink but most were too busy drinking themselves to notice. They may have said they didn't allow the kids to drink in their homes but somehow they didn't notice the disappearing alcohol from the liquor cabinet. They may have wanted their kids to think they could have a good time or celebrate or get through a stressful event or even have a meal without without a drink but the kids only saw the exact opposite. They saw their parents count the hours until that after work, after dinner, after whatever drink and that is what they model. Many of these parents are not even what most would consider problem drinkers. They just put a great amount of importance on drinking. When kids grow up thinking that a good time is never had without alcohol being involved, I don't know what else we can expect.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Many of these parents are not even what most would consider problem drinkers. They just put a great amount of importance on drinking. When kids grow up thinking that a good time is never had without alcohol being involved, I don't know what else we can expect.

[/quote]

Very true.</p>

<p>I have always had a zero tolerance for teen drinking in my family. There have been real and consistent consequences for any infractions and my kids got the message early on that i was not going to buckle. They eventually stopped testing (or so it seems :)). Anyway, neither my husband nor I are big drinkers and don't place a lot of importance on it. My children make note of this and see a marked difference between the role of alcohol in our home and the role of it in some of their friends homes. One of the reasons that i have to take a hard line on this is that one of my D's is a very black and white kinda kid. There is little room for nuance in the house rules.</p>

<p>I do think that the model that Mom2 follows can be a healthy approach, as well. I don't see it as the same as tolerating underage drinking. Having an occasional glass of wine in the home with your family or celebrating a holiday with champagne is very different than turning a blind eye to teenagers drinking outside their homes with the sole intention of getting drunk or at least buzzed.</p>

<p>Soooo, my almost 21 year old asked if she can have a Margherita with us today at our cookout. Do I let her or not? ;)</p>

<p>
[quote]
One of the reasons that i have to take a hard line on this is that one of my D's is a very black and white kinda kid. There is little room for nuance in the house rules.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>But it is not a black and white kinda world. It is many shades in between, to say nothing of the many colors out there.</p>

<p>Our family's alcohol policy reflects our overall value of enjoying all that life has to offer, in a safe and healthy manner. This value holds true for everyone in the family, regardless of age. </p>

<p>My D has tasted alcohol at home since the time she was a pre-teen, but she has never wanted to join in the binge drinking that some of her peers indulge in. We have never needed strict rules for this- she just knows that she doesn't want to live an unsafe or unhealthy life. </p>

<p>Not sure if it is the American model or the European model, but it is our family's model and it works.</p>