Parents permitting early drinking has ill effects on teens, health experts say

The myth that permitting early teen drinking can have positive effects has been debunked by medical health professionals.

This common belief says that if parents allow children to drink at a younger age, it demystifies alcohol and makes it less appealing.

However, Dr Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Health Service Executive (HSE), said that while this lifestyle might be effective for some countries, it has a negative effect in Irish culture.

According to the Irish Times, the psychiatrist said his findings were based on concrete evidence.

“It would be wonderful if it was true, but that’s just not what the evidence shows,” he said.

“There is this notion that in France they give alcohol to their kids with dinner...and it takes the drama or mystique out of it. But there is just no evidence to back that up.

“It would be wonderful to think that we could inoculate our children from a pro-drinking culture that we are surrounded by.”

In fact, he warned that earlier, permissive drinking can have ill effects.

The winning study of the 2015 BT Young Scientist competition examined this relationship between parent and children’s drinking habits.

It found that adolescents who frequently drink were over three times more likely to have a parent who drinks to the same, if not a worse, level.

They also found that the same adolescent would be almost four times more likely to have a father who believed that excessive drinking is perfectly acceptable from time to time.

It is clear that what we allow, specifically in Irish culture, can have a significant impact on our children.

Here are some recommended ways to approach the topic of drinking with young teens.