Parents supplying alcohol to their young teens remains a controversial, but relatively common practice. And just as a Canadian study recently found that early drinking experience may not in and of itself be a harbinger of later problems (unlike early drunkenness – see December newsletter) a new study from Australia found that children of parents who supply alcohol in the home are less likely to binge drink, and tend to drink less, than teens who get their alcohol from sources other than their parents.
The study followed 1,927 teens (average age 13 at the beginning of the study), over 4 years. About 1/3 of the teens reported their parents supplied alcohol, the same as in other studies from the US, Europe and Australia, the authors found. The key measures: consumption of “whole” drinks and rates of binge drinking in later years. The key findings, after the results were adjusted for factors like parental consumption, parental monitoring, religiosity, household make-up (one parent, two parent, etc), personality and other factors: parental supply was strongly associated with drinking, but not with binge drinking or heavy drinking. Specifically:
- “Parental supply at any wave was associated with doubled odds of drinking at subsequent waves, but was not associated with bingeing.”
- “While supply from other sources was similarly associated with a doubling in the odds of drinking whole drinks, it was associated with more than a tripling in the odds of binge drinking.”
“Consistent with this result, adolescents who received alcohol only from other supply sources drank significantly more drinks than adolescents who were supplied alcohol by their parents (and who were not supplied by other supply sources).”