The age old advice that allowing children to have a supervised drink every now and then is a good way of teaching them to drink responsibly could be nothing more than an old wives tale.
A new study of over 1,900 12 to 13 year olds has found that parents who allowed their children the odd dinnertime tipple were more likely to experience alcohol related consequences such as having blackouts and being involved in fights, two years later than those who had come from a background of not being allowed alcohol at all.
The study was conducted using both American and Australian participants, and the results produced from both sides suggested that those who had been allowed to drink under supervision were more likely to have had such experiences regardless of which country they were from.
The research was conducted by the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia, and the Social Development Research Group in Seattle, USA, and has now been published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Study leader Dr Barbara McMorris has said that the research shows just how much parents matter. “Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies. Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. Kids need black and white messages early on.” She said.
In contrast to this, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker, is of the belief that a zero tolerance approach to drinking could actually work against parents.
In a questionnaire given to school children between the ages of 10 and 15, participants were asked if their parents either had no interest in drinking, a zero tolerance approach, or showed concern.
Children with parents who let them drink but showed concern were said to have a responsible attitude towards drinking, and were better protected against binge drinking then the other groups, said Shenker.