Drinking alcohol is definitely a part of American culture, and so are conversations between parents and children about the risks and potential benefits of alcohol consumption. Although it’s not always straightforward as alcohol can affect people differently at different stages of life. There could be health benefits for certain adults, but alcohol can interfere with normal brain development in children and adolescents. As children grow, their relationships with their parents will change over time, which can make it difficult for parents to set concrete rules and communicate with their children about alcohol-related issues.
Parenting styles are important! Teens raised with a combination of encouragement, warmth, and appropriate discipline are more likely to respect their parents’ boundaries. Every parent is unique, but the ways each parent interacts with their child can be broadly categorized into four styles:
1. Authoritarian: high control/discipline with low warmth/responsiveness
2. Permissive: low control/discipline with high warmth/responsiveness
3. Neglectful: low control/discipline with low warmth/responsiveness
4. Authoritative: high control/discipline with high warmth/responsiveness
Children raised by authoritative parents generally tend to fare better than their peers. This is definitely true when it comes to underage drinking, because these children learn approaches to problem solving and emotional expression that help protect against the psychological dysfunction that often precedes alcohol misuse. The combination of discipline and support by authoritative parents promotes healthy decision-making about alcohol and other potential threats to healthy development.