Parents drink, children follow

A recent study shows a relationship between parental alcohol use and children’s rates of alcohol consumption

In a new study, the national public health institute, SIF, shows that children between the ages of 13 and 15 are more likely to drink, and have been drunk, if their parents drink daily, when compared to those children whose parents drink less frequently.


It is the first study of its kind that focuses on patterns of parental and societal alcohol consumption and how these patterns influence alcohol consumption habits amongst youth. Past studies have focused primarily on the child and his or her surrounding peer pressure.


According to Pernille Bendtsen, a PhD student at University of Southern Denmark's National Institute of Public Health, early exposure to alcohol can have severe repercussions.


"It can have many negative consequences," Bendtsen told Jyllands-Posten. "In the short term, for instance, it can result in increased conflicts and accidents. In the long term, we can see that it can lead to a higher risk of alcohol dependence in later life."


The study also shows that children between the ages of 13 and 15, who live in councils with higher alcohol consumption averages are more likely to drink even if their parents do not partake in frequent alcohol use.


"It says something about schools and councils also having a responsibility," Bendsten said. "It is necessary for them to provide alternatives to parties and other occasions where alcohol is involved."


Pernille Bendtsen recommends parents set limits for their children when it comes to alcohol consumption. 


"Ten to 15 years ago, it was commonplace to teach children to drink at home, in what is considered a safe and controlled environment, since they would otherwise go out and drink anyway," she said. "But studies have shown that setting clear boundaries and limits are significantly more effective tools."