According to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota, teens that drink while "under their parents' supervision" (see: the "cool" parents who let you have some of their wine or beer) are actually more likely to develop issues with alcohol dependency than kids with parents who would never allow such behavior:
When it comes to underage drinking, there are two schools of thought. Some are convinced that teens are too young and inexperienced to handle alcohol, and not ready to make decisions about how much is too much or how to drink responsibly.
Then there are those who point to cultures where alcohol isn't so taboo for adolescents, where adults allow their children to drink a little in their presence, and where alcoholism rates are no different from those in countries where underage drinking is illegal. By incorporating alcohol into youngsters' lives from an early age, and not making it a forbidden fruit, they argue, teens are less likely to abuse it as adults.
Except that, according to the lead author of the study, Barbara McMorris, that's not necessarily how it works.
The study, which was published in the Journal Of Studies On Alcohol And Drugs, compared seventh graders in America who weren't allowed to drink, with seventh graders in Australia, where this kind of adult-supervised drinking is more openly embraced:
By the ninth grade, 36% of the Australian teens had problems with binge drinking or other alcohol-related issues such as getting in fights and having blackouts, while only 21% of the American adolescents did. In fact, regardless of where they lived, youngsters who drank in front of adults were more likely to have drinking problems several years later than those who abstained.
The study says that the main issue is that parents are giving their children license to drink without teaching them how to monitor their alcohol consumption, which in turn leads them to overindulge in later years because they are not aware of when to stop drinking:
That's the revelation of McMorris's study, and it contradicts the intuitive sense that watching parents drink responsibly at dinner must send some message about moderation to teens about how to use alcohol. Instead, in the teen's mind, adult supervised drinking may be interpreted in almost the opposite way, as a license to imbibe. "As adults, we send a pretty clear message when we are permissive about the type of behavior we allow to happen right in front of us," says McMorris. "We say that it's okay to drink."
So –-as seems to be the case more often than not—, having ‘square' parents may have been your best option after all.