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Parental Influences on Teenage Drinking

by Stephen Maughan

Teenage drinking is widespread. According to KidsHealth, close to 80 percent of teenagers have tried alcohol before they leave high school. Although peer pressure does play a part in teenage drinking, MedlinePlus suggests that teenagers are also influenced by their parents' drinking habits and attitude toward alcohol.

Parents' Drinking Habits

Parents' drinking habits can directly influence a teenager's drinking. According to research conducted for the The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) for Columbia University in 2009, teenagers who have seen one or both of their parents get drunk are more likely to get drunk than those teenagers who haven't seen their parents drunk. MedlinePlus adds that frequent drinking or alcohol misuse in the home can lead to teenage drinking and alcohol dependency.

Parents' Attitudes Toward Drinking

MedlinePlus says that the way parents talk to their teenagers about alcohol can influence teenage drinking. Parents who do not talk to their children about alcohol can encourage drinking, as teens feel their parents are indifferent to alcohol consumption. According to CASA, teenagers who believe their fathers do not mind them drinking are more than two and a half times more likely to drink every month than teenagers whose fathers are opposed to teen drinking.

Home Environment

According to KidsHeatlh, stressful situations at home, such as divorce, financial difficulties or other family problems can influence a teenager's decision to turn to alcohol. Teenagers with low self-esteem, or those who feel distant or unloved from their parents, are also more inclined to drink alcohol as a form of comfort. MedlinePlus states that teenagers can frequently turn to alcohol as an escape if there is abuse or conflict occurring in the home.

How Parents Drink

KidsHealth says that teenagers are influenced by their parents' drinking habits, so it's important for parents to drink responsibly and set a good example for their children. The website HealthyChildren.org recommends parents should never drink in stressful situations, as teenagers will think it is acceptable to drink during difficult times. If parents always drink at special occasions, such as parties or celebrations, they are sending the message to their children that alcohol is a way to have fun.

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