Study Examines Alcohol Abuse and Parenting Styles

alcoholstudyjabA new study being published in the journal Addictive Behaviors indicates that there may be a link between mothers who are more authoritarian and children who develop drinking problems. It was conducted by researchers at Yale University, Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

In the study, researchers noticed a chain that may account for a person’s inclination to consume too much alcohol. Mothers who are authoritarian in nature force a child to develop self-concealment, they say. This is the act of hiding one’s behaviors that they believe will be viewed in a negative way by others. When someone exhibits these traits they are more likely to consume alcohol at a higher rate than others.

“Authoritarian parents really [cut] off communication with the child, so issues with self-expression [arise], leading to further problems later in life,” explained Robert Leeman, a researcher on the study. Authoritarian parenting is a very strict way of raising children. Parents tend to exert their will and opinion over that of a child. Alcohol abuse is oftentimes a solution for those that have a hard time expressing themselves or who have a low opinion of themselves which would fall in line with a child who was raised in authoritarian setting.

Interestingly, the study only shows this affect being present if a child has an authoritarian mother. If the father is authoritarian in nature it is viewed as protective by the child, not suppressive. This means that children with an authoritarian father had lower levels of self-concealment and therefore had less of a problem with alcohol abuse.

The study also revealed the style of parenting that results in the least amount of alcohol and drug abuse. Authoritative parenting appears to be the most effective at raising a child who does not need to consume drugs and alcohol. Authoritative (which sounds like Authoritarian, but is extremely different) parenting is a combination of high warmth coupled with strong control. This means that the child is raised in a family structure that exhibits love and offers praise but the child is expected to follow the rules.

While good parenting is definitely not a guarantee of preventing substance abuse later in life, it can absolutely be one of the best forms of early intervention.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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