The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry recently published a new research paper; Parenting factors associated with reduced adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies.

Conducted by the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, they found supporting evidence to suggest parenting choices affect both the age of commencement of alcohol consumption and the levels of adolescent drinking.

The objective of the study was to identify parenting strategies associated with adolescent alcohol consumption that parents can use to implement new national guidelines regarding alcohol consumption by people under the age of 18.

The strategies identified in the review provide “guidance for implementing recent British and Australian recommendations for limiting the harms associated with adolescent drinking,” they wrote in The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers investigated 12 parental behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol consumption:

  1. parental modelling,
  2. provision of alcohol,
  3. alcohol-specific communication,
  4. disapproval of adolescent drinking,
  5. general discipline,
  6. rules about alcohol,
  7. parental monitoring,
  8. parent–child relationship quality,
  9. family conflict,
  10. parental support,
  11. parental involvement, and
  12. general communication.

The researchers found that the most important factors in delaying the age at which young people started to drink were:

  • parental modelling,
  • limiting availability of alcohol to the child,
  • parental monitoring,
  • parent–child relationship quality, and
  • parental involvement and general communication.

They also found that adolescents drank less when the following factors were present in a teenagers life:

  • parental modelling,
  • limiting availability of alcohol to the child,
  • disapproval of adolescent drinking,
  • general discipline,
  • parental monitoring, parent–child relationship quality, and
  • parental support and general communication.

A surprising result was that talking about the harms of drinking did not deter teenagers from consuming alcohol, however leading by example and not consuming alcohol in front of young people did.

Researchers conducting the study wrote “This is counter-intuitive to many parents who believe that talking about issues and
problems with their children is an important strategy in helping develop responsible attitudes and behaviour.”

Parental monitoring of alcohol use, parent-child relationship quality, and general communication were all associated with delayed initiation and lower levels.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha

Source: The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2010; 44:774-83.