A new study out of the University of Minnesota claims that kids whose parents allow them to drink moderately in their presence are actually more likely to develop drinking problems later in life. This goes against the relatively common perception that uber-strict parents with zero tolerance policies on drinking produce kids who can’t handle it once they get their hands on the stuff, while the children of slightly more relaxed parents develop a healthy relationship with booze.
The gist of the study is this:
Barbara McMorris, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, compared seventh graders from the U.S., which prohibits underage drinking, and Australia, where adult-supervised drinking for teens is allowed. By the ninth grade, 36% of the Australian teens had problems with binge drinking or other alcohol-related issues such as getting in fights and having blackouts, while only 21% of the American adolescents did. In fact, regardless of where they lived, youngsters who drank in front of adults were more likely to have drinking problems several years later than those who abstained.
Well, shit! If this is true, I’m doomed to live in an alcoholic haze.
Thing is, do you ban your teen from drinking, knowing full well that unless they’re a nerd they’re going to parties on weekends and getting wasted anyway? Or do you allow them to have a glass of wine at dinner, even though this makes it seem like you condone drinking?
Let them have the glass of wine. Empirical evidence gathered by this reporter during college shows that the kids with the strictest parents are the ones who get out from under their thumb, can’t handle it, and end up in the E.R. with alcohol poisoning. Kids are going to drink no matter what, so why not let the little fuckers have a beer or two under your supervision? As for developing an alcohol dependency, that has to do with a number of factors — including genes, according to a number of studies — so perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to blame the “cool parents.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 30, 2011