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Parental alcohol‐specific rules and alcohol use from early adolescence to young adulthood

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Background:  Several studies stress the importance of alcohol‐specific rules during adolescence to prevent them from drinking early and heavily. However, most studies have short follow‐up periods and do not cover the relevant developmental period in which direct parental control diminishes and adolescent alcohol use increases. The current study aimed to provide a developmental perspective on the link between alcohol‐specific rules and alcohol use from early adolescence until early adulthood in the Netherlands.

Methods:  The sample consisted of 428 Dutch families including fathers, mothers and adolescents from 2 age groups (13 and 15 years old) at Time 1 (T1), who have been surveyed annually for 6 years. To address the effect of alcohol‐specific rules on adolescent alcohol use over time, a latent growth curve analytic approach with time‐varying covariates was employed.

Results:  Over time, adolescent alcohol use increased, whereas alcohol‐specific rules decreased. Most importantly, however, the lagged paths of alcohol‐specific rules consistently predicted subsequent alcohol use across the 6 assessments for both younger and older siblings. Thus, strict alcohol‐specific rules at a certain point in time were related to a lower intensity of adolescent alcohol use a year later.

Conclusions:  Although parents turn somewhat less strict in alcohol‐specific rules over time, and adolescent alcohol use increases over time, the specific rules parents set remain important in restraining the alcohol use of their adolescent offspring. Thus, parents should and can feel confident about their parenting capabilities, and they should maintain being strict to prevent their offspring from drinking.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Behavioural Science Institue, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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