Problematic Parents – How they are the source of young teens binge drinking

Children who see their parents drunk are twice as likely to get drunk regularly themselves, a survey of young teenagers has concluded. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity that conducts research into social issues and commissioned the survey, has reported that 70% of the 15 to 16-year-olds questioned had been drunk at least once. And there is evidence that poor parental supervision raises the likelihood of teenage drinking.

Ipsos MORI surveyed 5,700 children aged 13 to 16 for the poll and discovered that 38% of the 13 to 14-year-olds questioned had been drunk at least once.

Claire Turner, Programme Manager for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

This research shows that parents can have more influence on their teenagers’ behaviour than perhaps many assumed. Both what parents say, and how they behave, have a strong impact on their teenagers’ drinking, drinking regularly, and drinking to excess. There are differences in patterns across the group.So for the older teenagers, if they are introduced to alcohol later in life via friends, away from adult supervision, they are also more likely to drink to excess.

Don Shenker, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said,

Parents have to realise and accept that whether intended or not, their own attitudes towards drinking, their own rate of drinking and any drunkenness are clear signals to children that this is acceptable and standard behaviour.

Of course, any one with two brain cells or more could have worked out that parents are ultimately responsible for a child’s upbringing. And parents do have a major influence on children, and, believe it or not, teenagers too. It’s all a vicious cycle.

And the problem of alcohol continues to grow. This year, a 6 year old has been hospitalised for binge drinking (Reported here and here). Also, let’s not forget about the 3 year old who has been branded as Britain’s youngest alcoholic.

When is the UK going to wake up and smell the coffee? When is someone going to admit that this country has got it seriously wrong in terms of morality, family values and ethics in a vast amount of cases? How can anyone say that Christian ideals are outdated when their alternative has resulted in little kids becoming alcoholics and parents abusing their children in such a detrimental way?

How much more will we have to read and see in the news before the wake up alarm rings in the heads of people in this country? Doesn’t the fact that kids as young as 11 are drinking 2 bottles of wine a week cause people to have a rethink?

It’s up to us who are able minded to stop the vicious circle. I’m so thankful for Christian organisations who are helping to tackle these issues too. The Church has a very important responsibility here to make sure that Christ’s kingdom breaks through into the UK, especially in the lives of those who may be under educated in terms of how to bring up a family and may have had their moral boundaries blurred by unfortunate circumstances and past experiences. It is those people and organisations who provide the hope for the UK.

Of course, I’m being biased towards Christian doctrine and teaching, so my question is… “If it were up to you, how would you tackle and prevent these problems?”

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @

  • I’m not denying that there is a growing trend in binge drinking in this country, however, it is not just amongst teenagers. It is a far greater problem amongst 18-30 year olds apparently.
    I also wouldn’t be too convinced by statistics, seeing as what is considered ‘drunk’ is highly subjective, and as when you’re young it is deemed cool to get drunk, then 13-14 years olds asked are probably quite likely to say they have been, even if they haven’t. Put simply, statistics say whatever you want them to say.
    I would also like to point out that alcoholism is as much a problem within Christian circles as within non-Christian circles, but as it is seen as a taboo it’s kept fairly quiet. Therefore to say that it is only non-Christian ideals that have led to ‘little kids becoming alcoholics and parents abusing their children’, is entirely false.
    As well as Christian organizations, there are many non-Christian organizations which are tackling alcohol related problems.
    To say that it is only those who are ‘under educated’ and those whose ‘moral boundaries’ have been ‘blurred’, who have problems with alcoholism is entirely false, and exceptionally rude.
    I think you need to do a bit more research before making such sweeping generalisations, and being so one sided.

    • Hey Anna, thanks for commenting. Alcoholism is a problem everywhere, you’re right. But your statement about “non-Christian ideals that have led to ‘little kids becoming alcoholics and parents abusing their children’, is entirely false.” doesn’t really make sense. Because the Christian ideal is that people don’t get drunk on wine, but that they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

      I’m not denying that non Christian organisations are making good efforts to help alcoholics and binge drinking. I was merely emphasising the role of the church in this article (as it is primarily a Christian blog)

      I would also maintain that people’s moral boundaries have been blurred. It may be offensive, but definitely not rude. The message of Jesus is offensive, isn’t it? I would especially say that moral values have been blurred in the case of parents giving their kids alcohol at 3 and 11 years of age, ending up with them being hospitalised.

      The best research that I’ve had, and will never cease to learn from, is the personal experience I’ve had where alcoholism has been a problem in my family and affected me directly. That’s not to mention continuing conversations I have with recovering alcoholics and those affected by alcoholism; mostly of which have influenced my opinions on this issue, and therefore my stance in this blog.

      • It makes sense in response to the view you seem to be supporting that it is only from non-Christian ideals that teen drinking emerges.
        I am aware that it is a Christian blog, but surely all good work should be celebrated?
        I take it as rude. I don’t think you can base your argument solely on two instances. And in many cultures children are given alcohol from a young age to prevent alcoholism in later life.
        I also have personal experience of alcoholism. And the person in question was neither uneducated on how to raise a family (as far as I am concerned), nor were their moral boundaries blurred.
        I think you should tread more carefully and sensitively on this topic.

        • Of course it should be celebrated! I would never suggest that it shouldn’t.

          I would hope also that you wouldn’t think that I would base my argument on 2 instance. You’re right, but they are taught to drink in moderation, and in most cases, the parents do too. Which is why this report has come out. Because parents don’t drink in moderation, and neither do their children.

          Anna, my advice on reading the blog would be to sometimes take the articles with a pinch of salt. I do *try* to be controversial at times to get such a debate as this going. It’s not that I’m being insensitive at all. But I appreciate your concern. And at the same time, I do hold quite a conservative view of alcoholism, and feel that Christianity is the only ultimate answer to these problems which can be redeemed and reconciled through Christ.

          It’s only by the common grace of God that any of us are consciously aware of the fact that we have any morals to live by, and therefore to say that someone is morally blurred is not, in my opinion, rude; it’s the sheer truth of all of us in a sense! Justified through Christ brings enlightenment to morality, but not fully – we’re a broken humanity, and therefore morally blurred at times, and some more than others.

          But you’re entitled to your opinion, and I won’t discredit or invalidate that at all. And of course, I have to end by saying that you may be right! I always learn things from your opinion Anna, and I value any input that you have to put into the blog 🙂