Providing alcohol for underage youth: what messages should we be sending parents?

Övgü Kaynak, Ken C. Winters, John Cacciola, Kimberly C. Kirby, Amelia M. Arria

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    OBJECTIVE: There have been conflicting findings in the literature concerning the risks to adolescents when parents provide them with alcohol. Studies have examined various ways in which parents directly affect adolescent alcohol consumption through provision (e.g., parental offers, parental allowance/supervision, parental presence while drinking, and parental supply). This review synthesizes findings on the direct ways parental provision can influence a child's alcohol consumption and related problems in an effort to provide parents with science-based guidance. We describe potential mechanisms of the relationship between these parental influences and adolescent problems, suggest future directions for research, and discuss implications for parents.

    METHOD: Twenty-two studies (a mix of cross-sectional and longitudinal) that empirically examined the association between parental provision and adolescent drinking outcomes were reviewed.

    RESULTS: Parental provision was generally associated with increased adolescent alcohol use and, in some instances, increased heavy episodic drinking as well as higher rates of alcohol-related problems. Data in support of the view that parental provision serves as a protective factor in the face of other risk factors were equivocal.

    CONCLUSIONS: The nature and extent of the risks associated with parental provision, and the potential mechanisms underlying this association, are complex issues. Although more rigorous studies with longitudinal designs are needed, parents should be aware of potential risks associated with providing adolescents with alcohol and a place to drink. It is recommended that parents discourage drinking until adolescents reach legal age.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)590-605
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Health(social science)
    • Toxicology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health

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