Young children who see parents consume alcohol form gender-specific perceptions of drinking

by Research Society on Alcoholism

Retrived from
alcoholic drinks
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Young children’s exposure to their mothers’ and fathers’ drinking influences their perceptions of who consumes alcohol, with “vast implications” for their own future use, a new study suggests. The study, in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, provides compelling evidence of intergenerational transmission of drinking behaviors to children, including gender-based perceptions—the first time these effects have been demonstrated in children aged 4–8.

Children’s exposure to the use of alcohol around them is known to shape their perceptions of “typical” alcohol consumption (norms). Those perceptions influence drinking initiation, usually as adolescents, and alcohol consumption over time. Recent research has shown that how much parents drink in general is less relevant in this regard than their alcohol use in the presence of children. For the new study, investigators explored how exposure to mothers’ and fathers’ drinking influences young children’s perceptions of alcohol-related norms and what children infer about drinking and gender.

The researchers worked with 329 children and their parents, who were involved in a family study in the Netherlands. On three home visits in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the children completed a visual task on tablet computers. The task involved matching individuals depicted in family situations where alcohol might be consumed (e.g., dinner, party, watching TV, camping) with one of 12 beverages (four alcoholic, eight non-alcoholic). The children’s parents completed surveys on their recent alcohol use, including how often they drank alcohol in the situations featured in the visual test. The researchers used statistical analysis to explore how exposure to mothers’ and fathers’ drinking influenced how children attributed alcohol use to adults.

Click here to read the full article.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.

Leave a Reply