The association between parental alcohol-related behaviors and children's drinking

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 Apr 1;69(3):253-62. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(02)00324-1.


Past literature has established an association between children's alcohol-related behaviors and parents' use of and attitudes toward alcohol. However, most studies tend to measure parental use and attitudes through proxy, i.e. children's perception. It is not clear the extent to which actual parental use and attitudes influence children's alcohol behaviors. The current study directly used parents' reports on alcohol use and attitudes toward alcohol and examined their impact on children's alcohol use. Based on a three-stage random sampling design, 642 dyads of parents and children (ages 15-18) were interviewed by telephone in New York State. Study variables include parental alcohol use, children's alcohol use, parental attitudes toward underage drinking and parent-child interaction. While parental use and attitudes do not seem to significantly affect children's alcohol use, the extent to which parents prohibit children from using alcohol at home tends to reduce children's alcohol involvement. In addition, the greater the amount of time spent with alcohol-using parents, the more likely the children are to use alcohol. Findings suggest that, while parents' alcohol use influences children's alcohol use through extensive interaction, parental control of underage alcohol use in the household appears to reduce children's involvement in underage alcohol use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Social Control, Informal