Bad Parenting can Cause Teenage Drinking
With the most famous parenting book 65 years old last week, ‘Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare’ it seems very appropriate that parenting style and children’s behaviour is in the press.
Demos is a ‘political think tank focused on power and politics’ and this week it has released a document looking at parenting style and its contribution to binge drinking at the ages of 16 and 34.
Demos had access to information pertaining to over 15,000 children over the last 40 years and the data showed that parenting style is one of the most important and statistically reliable influences on whether a child will drink responsibly in adolescence and adulthood.
There are three different styles of parenting according to Diana Baumrind (1967). Authoritarian, authoritative and permissive parenting style. Baumrind favours the authoritative parenting style as the best.
Authoritarian: characterised by high demandingness with low responsiveness. The authoritarian parent is rigid, harsh, and demanding. Abusive parents usually fall in this category.
Permissive: characterised by low demandingness with high responsiveness. The permissive parent is overly responsive to the child's demands, seldom enforcing consistent rules. The "spoiled" child often has permissive parents.
Authoritative: characterised by moderate demandingness with moderate responsiveness. The authoritative parent is firm but not rigid, willing to make an exception when the situation warrants. The authoritative parent is responsive to the child's needs but not indulgent.
According to the think tank Demos parenting and in particular bad parenting style can be a strong indicator as to the teenagers and young adults relationship with alcohol.
• Bad parenting of children at age 10 makes the child twice as likely to drink excessively at age 34.
• Bad parenting at age 16 makes the child over eight times more likely to drink excessively at that age
• Bad parenting at age 16 makes the child over twice as likely to drink excessively at age 34
They found the "tough love" style of parenting or authoritative parenting style to be the most effective. This style combined warmth and discipline was the most effective in ensuring against children developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
To be an effective authoritative parent you need to have an understanding of your own background and how you react. Being a parent is about how you respond to your child’s needs and of course in picking up your child’s needs in the first place.
Disciplining a child with the ‘tough love’ style of parenting also involves you as a parent being able to deal with the ‘anger’ of the child when they don’t get their own way. It can be very stressful dealing with feelings stirred up by conflict with your offspring and you need to have a good handle on what you are feeling and why and then choose the best way to react trusting that you know through experience that you have made the right decision for the child.
Demos called on parents and the Government to work together to curb "an entrenched binge drinking culture" among Britain's young people. It recommended that parents develop a warm and loving relationship in the early years of their children's lives and assert discipline and supervision at the ages of 15 and 16. Parents should also set firm boundaries, avoid getting drunk in front of their children and not take a relaxed attitude to under-age drinking, the think tank said.
If you are a parent and are having trouble with your relationship with your child, or maybe your way of disciplining your child is different from your partner’s and this causes tension and confusion at home, then arrange to see Emua Ali the Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s parent coach and learn how to do things differently.
Emua will tell you that you have a choice of how you respond to your child but you may need to learn how! Together with Emua you will learn how to choose your response to your child’s behaviour; and how to develop a firm and warm parenting style; how to set and maintain boundaries; and how to challenge unacceptable behaviour. You will then develop a closer and more trusting relationship with your child and help them get their needs met.
Baumrind, D. (1967). Childcare practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behaviour. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75(1), 43-88.