Page last updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Healthy parent-child ties can reduce risk of excessive drinking for teenagers
A healthy parent-child relationship can have a preventive effect on the early drinking tendencies in teenagers according to a study by Emmanuel Kuntsche and colleagues of the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems.

The study emphasises the role played by parents in bringing down teenage drinking tendencies and suggests that teenagers who feel that they can share their problems with parents are less prone to early drinking, compared to those who do not share such a relationship with their parents. “Our work shows that the ‘preventive effect’ of a later drinking age is likely to be a side effect of a good parent-child relationship,” Kuntsche said.

Kuntsche and colleagues surveyed 364 adolescents over a time of two years. The subjects were studied three times in this duration and it was found that those who reported an early drinking age in the first phase yielded to more drinking by the second time.

The study suggests that a healthy and frank communication between the parents and their teenage child can “trigger a spiral of healthy development during adolescence” that ultimately minimises the risk of developing alcohol related problems at an early age. Only teenagers who share a ‘high quality’ relationship with their parents are less prone to develop alcohol related problems compared to their peers. Researchers define a high-quality relationship as one where teenagers felt they could discuss their problems with their parents and they in turn respected the child’s feelings.

Previous studies in this field suggested that the age of the child is an important factor that determines whether they will eventually develop alcohol-related problems. Kuntsche emphasised that parents should remember their role is important when it comes to children’s risk of substance abuse and emphasises that being attentive to children’s needs in general may be protect then from developing drinking problems.

Source: ‘The Earlier the More? Differences in the Links Between Age at First Drink and Adolescent Alcohol Use and Related Problems According to Quality of Parent-Child Relationships’. Emmanuel Kuntsche, Haske van der Vorst, Rutger Engels. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs Volume 70, 2009 Issue 3: May 2009

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