March 18, 2011

Parents Play Role in Alcoholism

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Young adults who had their social interactions monitored by parents of the opposite gender with specific parenting styles may be less likely to experience alcohol-related problems, according to a new study.

"While there's a plethora of research showing that low parental monitoring contributes to risky behavior, very few researchers have examined the effects of parental monitoring separated out by mothers and fathers," Julie A. Patock-Peckham, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, was quoted as saying. "It's normally measured with just the word 'parent.'"

The study included 581 college students who completed a questionnaire about the parenting styles of both their mothers and fathers. The survey also asked about their perceptions of each parent's knowledge of their friendships and social plans and the students' own impulsiveness and alcohol-related issues.

The parents were classified as being authoritarian (an emphasis on rules and obedience and lack of discussion), authoritative (gave clear rules and instructions but with an atmosphere of open discussion), or permissive (behaving much more like a friend than a parent).

The researchers found authoritative parents were most likely to do a better job of monitoring their child's social life, whereas permissive parents were least likely to effectively monitor their children. However, authoritarian parents seemed to have neither an advantage nor disadvantage in terms of monitoring.

"We expected an atmosphere of rules to play into monitoring," Patock-Peckham said. "But our study shows that having strict house rules does not mean that emerging adults feel that parents really know about their social life or plans."

The investigators also found that more parental monitoring by the opposite gender parent indirectly reduces alcohol-related problems by buffering impulsiveness. They are not exactly certain why this link exists.

"It's completely speculative, as this is really a new finding, but I believe it has something to do with the socialization process from one generation to the next," Patock-Peckham said. "Perhaps is has something to do with learning how members of the opposite gender view and value certain behaviors."

SOURCE: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, March 15, 2011