Page last updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Parents know best, but are they accurate? Parental normative misperceptions and their relationship to students’ alcohol-related outcomes

Parents often look to other parents for guidance, but how accurate are their perceptions? Expanding on existing normative literature to include parents of college students, a study by Joseph W. LaBrie and colleagues first sought to determine whether parents accurately estimated the attitudes of other parents concerning their college student’s alcohol-related behaviors.
The effect of these (mis)perceived injunctive norms on the alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors of the parents’ own children was then examined.
Study participants were 270 college student–parent dyadic pairs who completed independent online surveys. The student sample was 59% female; the parent sample was 78% female.
The study found that parents significantly overestimated other parents’ approval of alcohol use by their respective child and, further, that these misperceptions strongly influenced parental attitudes toward their own child’s drinking. Parental attitudes were subsequently found to be significantly associated with their child’s attitudes toward drinking but were only marginally associated with the child’s actual drinking, thereby underscoring the mediational effect of the child’s attitudes.
The authors state that this is the first study to document the influence of parental normative misperceptions regarding alcohol use by their college-age children, reinforcing the importance of parental attitudes on children’s alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors in college.
These findings support the need to complement student-based interventions with parent-based interventions aimed at increasing parental awareness and involvement. Further, the current findings indicate that normative interventions targeting parents offer a promising avenue by which to indirectly and positively influence college students’ alcohol use.
Source: Parents Know Best, But Are They Accurate? Parental Normative Misperceptions and Their Relationship to Students’ Alcohol-Related Outcomes. Joseph W. LaBrie, Justin F. Hummer, Andrew Lac, Phillip J. Ehret, Shannon R. Kenney, Justin F. Hummer July 2011: Volume 72, Number 4 Journal of Alcohol and Drugs
Underage drinking on Saturday nights, socio-demographic and environmental risk factors: a cross-sectional study
An open access study published by journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, investigated the social, demographic and environmental factors that may raise the risk of Saturday night drinking and binge drinking among underage school students in Italy.
The study was conducted on a sample of 845 underage school students, by means of an anonymous, self-test questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression was applied to identify independent risk factors for alcohol drinking and binge drinking. Ordered logistic regression was used to identify independent risk factors for harmful drinking patterns.
The independent variables that confer a higher risk of drinking in underage students are older age classes, male sex, returning home after midnight, belonging to a group with little respect for the rules. The higher the perception of alcohol consumption by own friends group, the higher the risk. Spending time in bars or discos coincides with a two-fold or four-fold increase, respectively, in the risk of alcohol consumption.
The authors state that although certain environmental and social risk factors are associated with underage drinking, the most important role for preventing young people’s exposure to these factors lies with the family, because only parents can exert the necessary control and provide a barrier against potentially harmful situations.
Source: Underage drinking on Saturday nights, socio-demographic and environmental risk factors: a cross-sectional study. Luigi Gallimberti, Sonia Chindamo, Alessandra Buja, Giovanni Forza, Federica Tognazzo, Laura Galasso, Angela Vinelli and Vincenzo Baldo

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