PARENTAL CONCERNS Lindsey did not realize the impact of allowing her son to drink on special occasions. Like most parents, Lindsey thought that by allowing him to have a small glass of wine or a beer on “special occasions”, like families do in many European countries, she was teaching him adult values and moderation. Studies show this is not the case. In the U.S., there are fewer youth who experience problems associated with alcohol compared to European countries where the drinking age is lower than 21. ACTION STEP: Parents should not assume that their children will know their rules and values about underage drinking or marijuana use. They need to be very specific about what the rules are, how these rules are helpful to their children, and why they are important. Research has shown that parents who take the time to communicate about the rules and their reasons are more likely to have children who follow the rules.

The research also shows there are additional things that Lindsey can do to reduce the odds of her son experiencing consequences. 1. Studies show that when parents allow their high 1. Studies show that when parents allow their children to have a small glass of wine or a beer on “special occasions”, they are likely to drink more often and in greater amounts when they are not with their parents and use marijuana. Unfortunately, the studies also indicated that the harm from letting their children drink even a little could not be changed by better parent communication, modeling, or monitoring. The impact on risk was the same no matter how good the parents were at communicating or how mature the children seemed to be. 2. These same studies show that allowing the use of alcohol on these special occasions is also related to combining alcohol and marijuana (and experiencing consequences). When Lindsey and her husband allow their son to drink on special occasions, they may have unknowingly increased his risk of combining alcohol and marijuana and experiencing consequences 3. Research shows that use of alcohol before the age of 21 is a risk factor for alcohol and marijuana consequences. One way for Lindsey to change her son’s risk is to no longer allow him to drink during special occasions until he turns 21.


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