Another study underscores the protective benefits of parents being proactive in pursuing a good relationship with their teenager.

Teenagers who have a strong relationship with their parents may start drinking at a later age -- which may, in turn, lessen their risk of developing alcohol problems, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, underscore the important role parents play in the risk of problem drinking.

Past studies have suggested that the age at which kids start drinking is a key factor in whether they eventually develop alcohol-related problems, like getting into fights or having academic or work problems.

So it often has been assumed that drinking at an early age, in and of itself, is the problem, explained the study's lead author, Dr. Emmanuel Kuntsche, of the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Our work shows that the 'preventive effect' of a later drinking age is likely to be a side effect of a good parent-child relationship," Kuntsche said. "In other words, the circumstances in which that first drinks occurs -- and how parents deal with it -- is important."

The study's data revealed the importance of parents' influence. In fact, only teenagers who reported both a later drinking age and a high-quality relationship with their parents had a lower risk of drinking problems compared with their peers.

A high-quality relationship was one where teenagers felt they could discuss their problems with their parents and that their parents respected their feelings.

Source: Science Daily
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090423180235.htm