Many parents believe that by giving their teenage children alcohol at home they help teach them to drink responsibly and prevent drinking problems in the future. Although common and well-meaning, a new scientific study published in The Lancet found that this approach does nothing to protect or benefit children and may actually be harmful.

This six-year longitudinal study of 1927 teenagers (ages 12-18) and their parents concluded that providing alcohol to teenagers at home had no protective effects or benefits when compared to teenagers that did not receive alcohol at home. In fact, teens that were given alcohol by their parents one year were twice as likely to obtain alcohol from other sources the following year compared to those who were not given alcohol by their parents. Binge drinking was also reported at higher rates from teens who were provided alcohol by their parents than from teens who were not.

“Providing alcohol to children is associated with alcohol-related harms. There is no evidence to support the view that parental supply protects from adverse drinking outcomes by providing alcohol to their child. Parents should be advised that this practice is associated with risk, both directly and indirectly through increased access to alcohol from other sources.” (Mattick et al, 2018)


Richard P Mattick, Philip J Clare, Alexandra Aiken, Monika Wadolowski, Delyse Hutchinson, Jackob Najman, Tim Slade, Raimondo Bruno, Nyanda McBride, Kypros Kypri, Laura Vogl, Louisa Degenhardt. Association of parental supply of alcohol with adolescent drinking, alcohol-related harms, and alcohol use disorder symptoms: a prospective cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30240-2

The Lancet. “Parental provision of alcohol to teenagers does not reduce risks, compared to no supply, Australian study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2018. .

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