Some parents believe that one way to prevent their children from binge drinking in college is to allow them to drink in high school. (I guess their thinking is that by letting their teens practice drinking in high school, they don’t overdo it when they find themselves on campus—especially if they’re at one of the top party schools, free of parental supervision.)
One way that parents do this is by hosting parties for teens and serving alcohol.
But, a new report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism challenges the idea that prior experience drinking in high school will prevent teens from going overboard in college.
The article, How NOT to Raise a College Binge Drinker highlights research from the Prevention Research and Methodology Center at the Pennsylvania State University that says parents who allow their teens to drink alcohol in high school are not preventing them from abusing alcohol when they get to college.
So what is effective in preventing alcohol abuse in college? Parental disapproval of drinking. Don’t just assume that your kids “know” you don’t want them to drink—make it clear by telling them. Some parents have even found it helpful to write the rules out in a contract that they sign with their child.
Teens who were allowed to drink at fairly high levels were more likely to be binge drinkers in college than their peers who had not been allowed to drink, or whose parents had set comparably low limits for what they considered to be acceptable drinking behavior.
The findings led to the conclusion that parents allowing alcohol consumption during the later years of high school was actually a significant risk factor for alcohol misuse and its consequences in college.