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Alcohol-Specific Socialization, Parenting Behaviors and Alcohol Use by Children

Christine Jackson, Lisa Henriksen, Denise Dickinson

Objective: This panel study examined the relations between alcohol-specific socialization by parents (monitoring of alcohol use by children, allowing alcohol use by children at home, communicating against alcohol use and setting rules against alcohol use), general dimensions of parenting behavior (responsiveness and demandingness) and alcohol use by children. Method: A sample of 488 fifth-grade children reported their perceptions of alcohol-specific socialization by parents, parental responsiveness and parental demandingness. These variables were used to predict alcohol use when children in the panel were in seventh grade. Results: Nineteen percent of seventh-grade children reported alcohol use in the past 30 days. Logistic regression analyses indicated that, after accounting for children's age, sex, single parent status, prior use of alcohol and exposure to parental modeling of alcohol use, the odds of alcohol use were significantly greater among children who perceived no parental monitoring of alcohol use, who had been allowed by parents to have a drink with alcohol at home and who perceived relatively low levels of parental demandingness. Rules against alcohol use, parental communication against alcohol use and parental responsiveness were unrelated to the study outcome. Conclusions: Parental monitoring of alcohol use by children, family norms regarding alcohol use by children at home and parental ability to set and enforce behavioral rules merit consideration as factors that should be modified by prevention programs. There is a need, however, for additional research that further examines the relations between exposure to such parenting behaviors during childhood and alcohol use during adolescence. (J Stud. Alcohol 60: 362-367, 1999)