When it comes to influencing your kids away from heavy drinking, is indulgent parenting better than being strict? According to a new study, neither parenting style will keep kids from experimenting with booze; but as it turns out, one approach can prevent your children from becoming heavy drinkers, and that’s warm parenting.
Based on a survey of almost 5,000 teens aged 12 to 19, researchers at BYU found that parents that were both warm with their children and rigorous about wanting to know where their teen was spending time and with whom were less likely to have teens that engaged in heavy drinking (defined as more than five drinks in a row). The findings are being published in the July issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Indulgent parents, those that were warm but lacked holding their children accountable had teens that were three times more likely to engage in heavy drinking, while strict parents had twice the chance.
“While parents didn’t have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking,” said one of the study’s authors, Stephen Bahr, a professor in BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.
Another of the study’s authors, John Hoffmann advises parents to, “realize you need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent. Make sure that it’s not just about controlling their behavior–you need to combine knowing how they spend their time away from home with a warm, loving relationship.”
Word, Professor Hoffmann–a healthy counterbalance of disciplinarian and pussy cat–purrrrrrrr–that’s the way to influence best. Too soft leads to mollycoddled cretins who don’t take their parents seriously, while too strict leads to rebels without a cause. Either one of these parenting styles makes children more likely to get wasted. And why not? They know they are either going to get their butts kicked regardless, or be let off the hook as usual, so why not push the limits?
No doubt heavy drinking among teens, which can easily lead to problem drinking as adults, is something that every parent would be wise to be on top of. As always, good sense is in the center, and knowing what your kid is doing, when and with whom is the best approach to showing how much you care. And a good ol’ arse-whoopin’ (with a loving smile and hug) goes a long way. Really, they’ll thank you for it one day.