Despite the fact that they are illegal and that high school administrators routinely denounce the practice, some parents host supervised drinking parties for their underage teens, especially for graduations. Parents who break the law choose to allow the drinking reasoning that drinking done under their supervision will help teens to drink responsibly, or at least protect them from harm for the moment. "They've got to learn someday," the common sense wisdom goes.
A recent study belies this bit of folk wisdom. Researchers followed 7th graders for three years, and found that the younger the child began drinking, the more likley they were to continue drinking - with or without parental supervision. Trouble is, the supervised group drank more, not less and had significantly more adverse alcohol-related events (sickness, passing out, blacking out, etc.). The supervised use of alcohol appears to encourage alcohol's use, but not responsible drinking.
"Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies," says study researcher Barbara J. McMorris, PhD. Permissive parenting may only be part of the problem though. Parents may need to examine the importance of alcohol in their own lives and establish a "no use" policy for their teens instead of initiating them into a problem at an even younger age.