Parental supervision and alcohol use in adolescence: developmentally specific interactions

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2008 Aug;29(4):285-92. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31816e22bd.


Objective: While parental supervision has been demonstrated to predict adolescent alcohol involvement, there has been little focus on the influence of adolescent characteristics, such as personality and alcohol use, on the effectiveness of parental supervisory practices. This study examined the interaction of parental supervision and adolescent alcohol use from late childhood through middle adolescence.

Method: Families were recruited through fathers with substance use disorders or fathers representing reference groups identified as having a biological child age 10 to 12 years. These children (N = 773) were assessed and follow-up visits conducted in early adolescence (ages 12-14) and middle adolescence (age 16). Parental supervision and alcohol use were determined at each visit. In the context of demographic variables and childhood psychological dysregulation, the statistical model examined global and developmental stage-specific relationships between supervision and alcohol use.

Results: Consistent with interactional hypotheses, childhood psychological dysregulation and early adolescent alcohol use predicted less effective parental supervision.

Conclusions: While the study design limited the extent to which predictive associations could be interpreted as indicating causal relationships, adolescents with psychological dysregulation and higher levels of alcohol use may resist parental supervision. The challenges to parents presented by difficult adolescents need to be taken into consideration in developing preventive and treatment interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Family / psychology
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires