Burning Question

Can divorce help turn kids into binge drinkers?

A new study shows a strong correlation between messy divorces and reckless teen behavior

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.

Sources: BBC News, Guardian, Telegraph

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