Like a lot of my friends, I’ve subscribed to the idea that sharing an adult beverage with teens at home once in awhile – a glass of wine with dinner, say – will teach them to drink responsibly. They’ll learn how it’s done, the theory goes. That’s how they do it in Europe, people say knowingly over their own wine glasses.
Some European scientists have a message for us well-intentioned family drinkers: Don’t do that.
A Dutch research team studied over 400 families. They found that teens who drink at home drink more, and more frequently, away from home as well. Those teens also tended to score higher on metrics for problem drinking two years later.
In the Netherlands, experts frequently advise parents to teach their kids to use alcohol responsibly by modeling good drinking habits and sharing small amounts of alcohol at home. That advice has been based on intuition and logic rather than scientific research.
Now the science suggests intuition had it wrong. The researchers say that if you want to help your child avoid alcohol problems, you should take a page from old-fashioned American prohibitionism. Try to delay the age at which your child starts drinking, and limit the kid’s access to alcohol as much as possible.
Photo: Sierra Black
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