Adolescent health brief| Volume 62, ISSUE 2, P245-247, February 2018

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Parents Who Allow Early Adolescents to Drink

  • Jennifer L. Maggs
    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).
    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
    Sociology and Criminology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


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