There is an increasing awareness that parents can play an important role in shaping their children’s attitudes towards alcohol and use of alcohol. A team of researchers led by Dr Nigel Sherriff at the University of Brighton was commissioned by Drinkaware to examine this in-depth. Here is an overview of what they found:
How do parents talk to their teens?
Style of conversation
The majority of parents felt comfortable having conversations about alcohol with their children. It was considered important to have an open and honest dialogue about all sensitive topics such as sex, drugs and smoking.
Triggers to conversations
Conversations were triggered by "taking opportunities to bring topics up", for example when watching TV together, seeing drunk people and going to parties where there is alcohol.
These tended to be generic short- and long-term effects of alcohol (hangovers, addiction etc.). The most common topic was staying safe while drinking.
Supervision of child's alcohol consumption
A common theme was not banning their children from drinking alcohol outright, they employed conscious strategies as they felt banning it would only increase their children's interest.
So, what are the recommendations?
- Children and parents agreed on the open nature of conversations "in passing" rather than a "big sit-down" approach
- Teens were positive about their parents in helping them navigate their introduction to alcohol
- Parents tended to be unaware of the extent that their kids wanted more information on drinking