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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 12:56 GMT
Drinking habits 'taught' by parents
A young person drinking (Pic: SPL)
The study looked at parenting skills and teenage drinking
A new study suggests the phrase 'like father, like son' also applies to drinking habits.

US researchers took more than 4,700 teenagers and their parents, and asked them about their relationship with alcohol.

Generally, the researchers found parents' drinking levels were linked to those of their teenagers.

But there was more to it than a simple case of copying, with many seeing their parents' drinking as a sign of lax parenting.

While there have been plenty of other studies which suggest parents can be a strong influence on their children's odds of drinking, this latest research looked at how discipline played a role.

Parents were questioned about their past and present drinking habits, as well as any alcohol problems.

Their children were quizzed about their alcohol intake at the ages of 14 and 17, and about their home life. They were asked about how strict and fair their parents were.

Punishment

The researchers found parents who drank heavily tended not to keep an eye on their children's comings and goings, but tended to punish them more often.

The study suggested those tendencies seemed to influence the likelihood of their children drinking and getting drunk, particularly at age 14.

Lead researcher Dr Shawn Latendresse said: "I think that this is an important finding for parents in that it raises an awareness of their multifaceted influence on the drinking behaviours of their adolescents."

The findings, according to Dr Latendresse, suggest parents who monitor their children may lower their chances of drinking.

On the other hand, he added, excessive discipline might have the unintended effect of pushing teenagers to drink.

The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, included 4,731 Finnish teenagers and their parents.

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