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  • Updated:26 Feb 2008

05.Advice for parents

It’s difficult for parents of young teenagers to know what approach to take with alcohol.

Do you introduce your children to alcohol in an attempt to educate them to be discerning about drinking or, alternatively, encourage them not to use alcohol until they reach the legal age? Is it appropriate to provide your teenager with alcohol to take to a party? Is there something you can do to help your teenagers avoid alcohol-related harm?

Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of official guidelines for parents to follow. However, a government report conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies concluded that there’s a number of key messages for parents on the topic that might help.

Key messages

  • Delaying the onset of alcohol use is associated with more moderate and less risky patterns of use in adulthood, while early onset is related to more risky patterns of use in the long term.
  • Parental attitudes and norms towards alcohol can play a considerable role. For example, when parents showed disapproval of alcohol use, their children were less likely to use alcohol. Conversely when parents were tolerant or permissive, their children were more likely to consume alcohol.
  • Once teenagers have started drinking, enhanced parental monitoring appears to be a key factor in minimising risky alcohol use. However, this first requires there to be good parent-teenager relationships — simply asking more questions of your teenager may be more damaging.
  • Once a good relationship is in place, clear and consistent rules regarding alcohol use and maintaining open communication are key.

More information

DrinkWise Australia
Drug Info Clearinghouse (Australian Drug Foundation)
Reach Out!
The Salvation Army


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