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Study says parents shouldn’t drink with their teens

It’s not uncommon for parents to serve their teenagers alcohol as a way to teach responsible drinking habits. While attending Los Gatos high school in the South Bay, I experienced this first hand, going to many keg parties where a parent was filling the plastic cups with Coors Light.

Usually, the parents felt it was better that their teenager drink with their friends in a controlled environment where car keys could be taken at the door. But sometimes the parents ended up getting drunk themselves and their role as supervisor quickly deteriorated.

Also, it’s not unusual for parents to serve their teenagers wine at the dinner table on special occasions. Many of us would assume this is a healthy “European” approach to dealing with teenagers and alcohol. It might take away some of the stigma around drinking.

A team of European researchers set out to test the theory that parents can guide their teenagers into drinking responsibly by serving them alcohol. They looked at 428 Dutch families with two children between the ages of 13 and 15. Parents and teens completed questionnaires on drinking habits at the outset and again one and two years later.

The study results, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home. The reverse was also true, with out-of-home drinking leading to more drinking at home.

What’s more, teens who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.

The findings, according to the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Haske van der Vorst, suggest that teen drinking begets more drinking — and, in some cases, alcohol problems — regardless of where and with whom they drink.

“If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence,” van der Vorst of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, says “they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking.”

source: San Francisco Chronicle

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