Factors contributing to parents providing alcohol sips to adolescents

1. After controlling for multiple factors, parental perception of whether their child engages with substance-using peers, ease-of-access to alcohol in the home, and lenient alcohol specific rules are associated with increased parental supply of alcohol sips to their adolescents.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Study Rundown: It is common for parents to provide sips of alcohol to early adolescents, with the thought that this is done in an effort to provide a supervised environment for this exposure. Research has linked early adolescent alcohol use to delinquent behavior, physical injury, poor adolescent health and well-being, and alcohol-use disorders. In addition to the fact that the idea of “sips” has not been addressed in any research studies, the events, ideas, behaviors and factors leading up to providing these sips has not been addressed either. Researchers who conducted this study aimed to address the antecedents for parents supplying alcohol sips to early adolescents. After controlling for multiple variables, results demonstrated that parents who reported peer substance use in their adolescents, those with increased home alcohol access, and lenient alcohol-specific rules were more likely to supply sips of alcohol to their adolescents. This study was limited by selection bias and reliance on self-report. While this study provides some understanding of what contributes to parents supplying even small amounts of alcohol, it is important that guardians be aware that they may be, in fact, introducing their children to high-risk behaviors.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Childhood Risk Factors for Early-Onset Drinking

In-Depth [prospective cohort]: As part of the Australian Parental Supply of Alcohol Longitudinal Study, a total of 1729 parent-child dyads qualified to be in this study. Baseline surveys were obtained (T1), as well as 1-year follow up surveys (T2). Variables measured included parental supply of a sip of alcohol at T2, familial demographics, parenting practices, individual adolescent behaviors, peers, and parental alcohol use. Unadjusted analyses showed that supplying alcohol at T2 was associated with increased T1 reports of parental alcohol use (OR = 1.12, p < 0.001), home access to alcohol (OR = 1.08, p < 0.001), perceived peer substance use among both parents and adolescents (parent-report OR =1.37, p < .001; and adolescent-report OR = 1.13, p < .001), and externalizing problems (OR = 1.02, p = .009). When adjusting for all familial demographic, parental, peer and individual adolescent factors, few of these associations remained significant, specifically increased home alcohol access (OR = 1.07, p < 0.001), increased parent perception that their child engaged with substance-using peer (OR = 1.20, p < 0.001), and decreased alcohol-specific rules (OR = 0.88, p = 0.033). After adjusting for a type 1 error rate, the associate with alcohol specific rules no longer remained significant.

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