Adolescent binge drinking — along with its potentially deadly consequences — may be caused in part by bad parenting or divorce. That’s one of the conclusions a long-term study carried out by the British think tank Demos, which looked at how parenting styles affect the behavior of children as they grow up. Here, a brief guide:
What did the study reveal?
Demos studied data about more than 30,000 children (or erstwhile children) born in the U.K. over the last 40 years. They found that 16-year-olds with "disengaged parents" were more than eight times more likely to drink excessively than children with more involved parents. Additionally, children whose parents divorced were more likely to have "problematic drinking behaviors."
So does divorce cause binge drinking in kids?
Not necessarily. But there is a strong correlation that suggests that kids whose parents divorce are more likely to drink excessively. "Divorce won't make your child a drinker, but instability and stress around relationship breakdown takes its toll on parents and children," says researcher Jamie Bartlett, as quoted in Britain's Telegraph.
What other conclusions did the study draw?
The report divided parents into four camps: Authoritarian, disengaged, laissez-faire and tough love. A tough-love style of parenting helped to ensure that children drank more responsibly when they were older. Being too authoritarian with children, however, could be as problematic as being too casual. The study also recommended parents not appear drunk in front of their children, and that parents discuss setting firm boundaries with teenagers about "sensible and responsible" alcohol use.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week