Stopping Teenagers Going ‘Off the Rails’

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My  teenage son had 10 of his mates round last Friday to watch the football on our big screen and they all brought their cans, tortilla chips and peanuts.

They are a great bunch of kids and I really enjoyed their  banter and energy.

Of course I worry about my son going on holiday soon for the first time without us with 15 of  his friends and  going off to Greece to celebrate the end of their “A” levels.

But we have taught him well….. I hope …. passed on our advice, and  values and now the rest is up to him…. I’ll try not to think too hard about all the possible pitfalls and I’ll focus on him being a sensible lad and great in a crisis.

So I read with interest today an article in  Daily Telegraph about how strict and loving relationships are the  key to stopping teenagers going off the rails.

Researchers found that was the best combination of parenting skills to stop them abusing alcohol.

Being too strict or too affectionate on the other hand at least doubled their chances of binge drinking.

Teenagers most at risk of bingeing on booze had loving parents who didn’t know where they were. This group tripled their risk of being heavy drinkers.

But teenagers with strict parents who knew where they were but were low on warmth still doubled the risk.

The teenagers least prone to heavy drinking – having more than five drinks in a row – had parents who scored highly on both knowing where their kids were and having a warm relationship with them.

The research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, was by experts from Brigham Young University in Utah.

Professor Stephen Bahr, from BYU’s College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, said: “While parents didn’t have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking.

“Prior research on parenting style and teen drinking was a mixed bag, showing modest influence at best. But unlike previous research, this study distinguished between any alcohol consumption and heavy drinking.”

The study also revealed that religious teenagers were “significantly” less likely to drink at all and young people were more likely to have teetotal friends if their parents scored high on warmth and accountability.

Prof Bahr said: “The adolescent period is kind of a transitional period and parents sometimes have a hard time navigating that. Although peers are very important, it’s not true that parents have no influence. Parents need to realise you need to have both accountability and support in your relationship with your adolescent. Make sure that it’s not just about controlling their behavior – you need to combine knowing how they spend their time away from home with a warm, loving relationship.”

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