As a mother, I think it’s pretty common to worry…
Dear Dr. JPL: Is it good to let kids drink when they are still under age at home under the supervision of their parents? Does this promote or discourage responsible drinking as an adult?
Teens look to their parents for guidance and support. They take the messages their parents send seriously. They learn most effectively from observing behavior. Actions then clearly speak louder than words when it comes to teens taking advice from parents. Parents who allow their teens to drink at home are sending a mixed message. Although teens may be told that they are allowed to drink in very specific circumstances, the message they tend to receive is that their parents are okay with them drinking anywhere.
Research clearly reflects that teens permitted by parents to drink in their own homes or elsewhere are at higher risk to engage in underage drinking and become alcohol abusers.
The argument that teens are ‘safer’ drinking at home simply does not pan out in the reality. Parents are best served engaging their teens in interactive discussion about the perils of underage drinking. Teens with parents who offer education about underage drinking and set clear consequences for such behavior are simply at lower risk.
ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.