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Are you a Permissive or Authoritative Parent?


Teens raised with a combination of encouragement, warmth, and appropriate discipline are more likely to respect the boundaries that their parents set (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2023). Having an understanding of parental influence on children through unconscious and conscious efforts as well as how to talk to your children about alcohol can help parents have a larger influence than they think on their child’s alcohol use (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2023). Parents are one of the most important social influencers in preventing and reducing adolescents’ alcohol consumption (Hurley et al., 2019). Numerous studies have indicated a positive association between certain parenting factors and adolescents’ alcohol use (Hurley et al., 2019). 

Parenting styles may influence whether a child listens to their parents’ advice regarding alcohol use. Every parent-child relationship is unique; however, the ways that parents interact with their children can be broadly categorized into four styles: authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and authoritative (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2023). Authoritarian parents exert high control and discipline with low warmth and responsiveness, permissive parents typically exert low control and discipline with high warmth and responsiveness, neglectful parents exert low control and discipline as well as low warmth and responsiveness, and authoritative parents exert high control and discipline along with high warmth and responsiveness (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2023). 

Permissive parenting can give the impression that the parent is more of a friend to their child than a parent. It can put the parent in a weak position when they do need to set boundaries or control as their child does not see them as authoritative. This can become an issue when the parent tries to set boundaries about alcohol and drug use as it has been found that growing up in a permissive household has been associated with heavier drinking (Tucker et al., 2008). Heavy drinking can happen during adolescence or when your child grows up and becomes an adult. Furthermore, three-quarters of adolescents from permissive households reported heavy drinking at grade 9, with less frequent heavy drinking among those who reported less exposure to peer and adult drinking, less peer approval of drinking, weaker positive beliefs about drinking, a stronger academic orientation, higher resistance self-efficacy, and less delinquency (Tucker et al., 2008). Permissive parenting can also set norms for other parents to follow if it is common in a community. This can lead to greater issues within a community as it sets the tone for parents with younger children that it is okay to let their children drink when they enter middle school or high school. 

Putting authoritative parenting into practice is not as complicated as one might think. Parents can take steps such as: listening to their child, validating their child’s emotions and considering their feelings, establishing clear rules, offering a warning for minor issues, using consequences that teach life lessons, offering incentives, letting the child make small choices, balancing freedom with responsibility, turning mistakes into learning opportunities, encouraging self-discipline, and finally maintaining a healthy relationship with your child (Morin, 2020). Listening to your child and validating their emotions are imperative steps to building a strong relationship with your child. Fostering a strong relationship with your child can make it easier for them to open up to you and come to you with their problems. It is also important to establish clear rules with your child. If they break those rules you should work with your child to determine the appropriate consequences. This can be small such as a warning for what may happen if they break the rules again. Parents can also take negative consequences that their child may face after an unfavorable action and turn it into a learning opportunity. Not much can be done if they have done something or broken the rules. However, the negative experience can still be useful in teaching them consequences and helping them gain important life skills. Consequences should be created to help your child learn to do better and discuss with them so they can learn from their mistake. 

Permissive parenting exerts low control and discipline with high warmth and responsiveness. This may seem like an adequate parenting style however, it can lead to issues with your child down the road with an increased likelihood of underage drinking and substance use. It is important to look at the parenting styles you use in your home and with your family to determine the right fit for your children. There are numerous parenting styles to employ in your home. Authoritative parenting has been cited as one of the best parenting styles to raise your kids as it focuses on taking your child into account when setting rules and boundaries which then leads to happy and healthy children who are better equipped to face real-world challenges. 


References

Hurley, E., Dietrich, T., & Rundle-Thiele, S. (2019). A systematic review of parent based programs to prevent or reduce alcohol consumption in adolescents. BMC Public Health, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7733-x


Morin, A. (2020, October 26). 12 Ways to Become a More Authoritative Parent. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/ways-to-become-a-more-authoritative-parent-4136329


National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2023, September). Parenting to prevent childhood alcohol use. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/parenting-prevent-childhood-alcohol-use


Tucker, J. S., Ellickson, P. L., & Klein, D. J. (2008). Growing up in a permissive household: What deters at-risk adolescents from heavy drinking? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 69(4), 528–534. https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2008.69.528 


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