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03-24 Parents should avoid drinking at school functions

Parents should avoid drinking at school functions

Believe it or not, in some countries — for instance, in England and Australia — school functions sometimes provide an open bar for the parents. It’s not unusual to see mothers and fathers drinking wine during a primary school concert, or beer during a school-sponsored fair.

According to recent research, this unique mixture of parental drinking and young students might not be such a good idea.

Parent’s drinking habits influence child’s view of alcohol

Researchers at the University College London decided to investigate the drinking habits of 10,498 11-year-olds. This is the first study to investigate drinking behavior in very young adolescents in relation to various factors known to increase alcohol consumption, such as family, friends and overall view of alcohol.

Nearly 14 percent of the children surveyed — or roughly 1,468 — had consumed more than a few sips of alcohol at least once.

The researchers found that several factors were correlated with this drinking behavior, including:

  • Unhealthy personal relationships
  • Difficulties expressing emotions
  • Heavy drinking in the mother
  • Friends who also drink
  • Positive perceptions of alcohol

From these results, the alcohol and drug recovery charity Swanswell concluded that parents should be cautious drinking alcohol at primary school events, since it creates an early impression that alcohol is positive and facilitates socialization.

Does this mean parents shouldn’t drink around children?

Not necessarily. The study only found that young drinking was correlated with certain factors, and correlation is not the same as causation. For instance, children who are predisposed to alcoholism may view alcohol more positively than their peers because of their genetics — not because of how alcohol is portrayed.

The media also does a very good (or very bad) job promoting alcohol use. Even if a child has parents who never drink, the child will still understand that alcohol is typically viewed in a positive light. Eliminating alcohol at home — and at school — will not change society, and adolescents may instead overindulge in alcohol as an act of rebellion.

So what should a parent do? Teach your child about the negatives — and the positives — associated with alcohol use. Don’t glorify drinking, but don’t demonize it either. Let your children know that you’re a safe person to talk to and that you’re willing to listen.

In the meantime, don’t get drunk at your child’s school functions. Adolescence is awkward enough as it is.

At the Sovereign Health Group’s adolescent treatment program, our patients receive treatment that is both caring and compassionate. We understand that our patients are people — not a diagnosis. For this reason, patients are provided with customized treatment plans that include psychotherapy, reality therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication management, art therapy, equine therapy and meditation classes. For more information, please contact us at our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Courtney Lopresti, M.S., is a senior staff writer for the Sovereign Health Group where she uses her scientific background to write online blogs and articles for a general audience. At the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her Master’s in neuroscience, she used functional neuroimaging to study how the human cerebellum contributes to language processing. In her spare time, she writes fiction, reads Oliver Sacks and spends time with her two cats and bird. Courtney is currently located in Minneapolis. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at

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