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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Parenting Style Influences How and When Your Kids Drink

This seems like common sense but how many of us don't use it when it comes to taking care of our children? Easy to see faults in someone else's kids but when they are yours it's not that simple.

A new Brigham Young University study found that parenting style strongly and directly affects teens when it comes to heavy drinking -- defined as having five or more drinks in a row.

This strikes a chord within me because my mom died when I was 13 and my father disappeared into a new marriage. Guess what I did? It started with a bottle of cooking wine and a lot of vomiting.

The researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 about their drinking habits and their relationship with their parents. Specifically, they examined parents' levels of accountability -- knowing where they spend their time and with whom -- and the warmth they share with their kids. Here's what they found:

* The teens least prone to heavy drinking had parents who scored high on both accountability and warmth.
* So-called "indulgent" parents, those low on accountability and high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of their teen participating in heavy drinking.
* "Strict" parents -- high on accountability and low on warmth -- more than doubled their teen's risk of heavy drinking.


1 comment:

  1. I would disagree entirely with the sentiment that scaring kids away from alcohol is even remotely feasible. This is about as effective as the DARE program, which is a massive failure.

    The abuse of drugs and alcohol is the result of addiction...which in itself is a symptom, not a cause. Addictive behavior is associated with countless psychological disorders. Keeping an eye on our children's mental health is far more effective in preventing addiction than anything else. ADHD has a very high risk factor for drug abuse, as it is the result of a malfunction of the reward center of the brain. Bipolar disorder, clinical depression and general anxiety disorders also carry a high risk factor.

    I am the son of two alcoholic parents, and a recovering alcoholic myself. While in rehab I was diagnosed with ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and generalized anxiety. I was always restless and dissatisfied, yearning for something i couldn't put my finger on. When I discovered alcohol at 18, I thought I had found the answer. I rapidly went through the phases of alcoholism and was in rehab by 23. I'm 30 years old at the time of writing this, and it has taken half my life to figure out what was wrong with me.

    My parents could have done nothing to prevent my addiction with regards to their parenting style. Both warm and strict (when needed), they were merely unaware of ADHD, the risks it carried and the options they had.

    What they did to right? Knowing the statistics and wagering on family history, they informed me that my risk of becoming an alcoholic was very high. This helped me identify the pattern at 23, which is quite early for most drunks to quit.

    My problem was chemical. I lacked dopamine and other neurotransmitters that gave me a sense of reward and well being. Under the supervision of a wonderful psychiatrist I now fill my chemical needs in a far more constructive manner with proper pharmaceutic medication. Had I been diagnosed and placed on medication at an earlier age, it may have been possible to avoid my dance with addiction. Then again maybe not.

    If your child is acting out, there is a reason. Proper parenting should not only consist of behavioral monitoring and manipulation, but should also keep in mind that the problem might be out of their hands. Talk to your doctor.