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Parents Who Allow Early Adolescents to Drink

  • Jennifer L. Maggs
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Jennifer L. Maggs, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, Human Development and Family Studies, 119 HHD Building, University Park, PA 16802. (J.L. Maggs).
    Affiliations
    Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

    Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, United Kingdom
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  • Jeremy A. Staff
    Affiliations
    Sociology and Criminology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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      Abstract

      Purpose

      Previous research on community samples reveals that a sizeable minority of parents allow their early adolescent children to drink alcohol. The present study documents in a national longitudinal study the prevalence of parents allowing 14-year-olds to drink and examines variation by sociodemographic background and parent alcohol use.

      Methods

      Children and parents (n = 10,210 families) participating in the ongoing Millennium Cohort Study provided self-report data from when the child was an infant to age 14 years.

      Results

      About 17% of parents allowed their early adolescents to drink. Employed, more educated, and non-abstaining parents of white children were more likely to permit early adolescent drinking. Permitting alcohol use did not vary by child gender, teenage or single parenthood, or variation in parental drinking level.

      Conclusions

      Socioeconomically advantaged, non-abstaining parents evidence a more permissive attitude about early drinking, which is a risk factor for early initiation, heavier use, and other problem behaviors.

      Keywords

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