Fathers Influence Kids' Drinking Habits More Than Mothers, Study Says

By May Wilkerson 05/07/15

Taiwanese researchers found that both boys and girls are more influenced by dad's boozy behavior.

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The degree a parent’s drinking influences their teen child’s drinking habits could depend on gender, according to a new study from Taiwan.

Researchers found that both girls and boys were more influenced by their fathers’ drinking, while girls were somewhat influenced by how much their mothers drink.

“The association between father drinking and teen drinking was stronger than that between mothers’ and teens' drinking,” said study coauthor Hsing-Yi Chang of the National Health Research Institutes in Miaoli.

The findings may be attributed in part to the culture of Taiwan, which is “still a patriarchal society,” said Chang. “Additionally, more men drink than women.”

The researchers compiled data from a previous long-term study that included 4,000 Taiwanese ninth graders, between 2006 and 2009. They found that boys whose fathers were non-drinkers or opposed underage drinking were 39 to 73% less likely to drink than boys whose fathers were frequent drinkers or condoned underage drinking.

“In boys, knowing his father was against drinking had stronger effects than fathers’ behavior,” said Chang.

Among female students, those with a non-drinking father were 48 to 49% less likely to drink than those with drinking or pro-drinking fathers. Girls with a non-drinking or anti-drinking mother were 77% less likely to drink.

When it comes to teen drinking, “both parental behavior and attitude are important,” Chang said. “Teens are at the stage of exploring new things and want to be recognized by their peers."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.