We all may know well-meaning parents who decided to permit teens (their own and friends) to drink alcohol at home where mom and dad could keep an eye on them. They assumed that allowing kids to drink at home removed the taboo and would make drinking alcohol less about rebellion and therefore less appealing. The actual facts show the opposite is true and what these parents also may have forgotten to consider is their own risk when they decide to serve alcohol to minors.
The National Institutes of Health has funded research which shows that serving under-aged kids alcohol in the home does not reduce the likelihood that children will be problem drinkers later. Quite the reverse. Research shows that kids who were given alcohol at home tend to drink more during their teens and are more likely to have drinking problems once they reach adulthood.
Parents who want to create a less uptight atmosphere around alcohol at home in hopes that it will lower kids’ desire to engage in risky drinking when they are away from home are building on a faulty premise. The truth is that parents are influential in forming attitudes toward substance use. If the parents are accepting and permissive about alcohol use,that is the message kids take away. Parents who want to lower the risk of alcohol misuse do better to be very clear about the dangers of underage drinking. Words and actions that reinforce that message are more effective in reducing bad alcohol choices by kids. Rather than promote alcohol use, parents should help teens learn about the consequences of underage drinking.
Parents who think their teen may already be engaged in alcohol use should not wait to seek help for both the addiction or dependence, and the mental health problems like chronic depression that often accompany alcohol use. Family Guidance Center can help with the mental health symptoms and illnesses that often go hand in hand with teen alcohol or substance use. Early intervention is important to help teens who struggle with alcohol abuse.