Research & Resources

“Let’s Not Talk About It”: Parents’ Reasons for Not Discussing Alcohol Use with Emerging Adult Children

This study examined common reasons parents avoid discussing alcohol use with their emerging adult (EA) children. Parents of EAs completed a web-based survey that included items assessing reasons for not communicating about alcohol, as well as measures of alcohol communication intentions, parenting self-efficacy, relationship quality, and interest in participating in an alcohol parent-based intervention. The results revealed five core reasons parents gave for not communicating about alcohol: (1) they believed their child was an independent, trustworthy decision-maker; (2) they believed their child was a non-drinker; (3) they lacked the skills or resources to communicate; (4) they could teach their child how to drink through modeling; or (5) they believed communication was futile. Believing that an EA could and should make their own alcohol decisions was the most common reason for not communicating. In multivariate analyses, this reason for not communicating was associated with greater levels of parental self-efficacy and perception of a child to drink less alcohol. Further, this reason for not communicating was associated with lower intentions to communicate about drinking and less interest in taking part in a PBI. Most parents reported barriers to communication. The researchers emphasized that understanding why parents are reluctant to discuss alcohol use could inform PBI efforts.

This paper, “‘Let’s not talk about it’: Parents’ reasons for not discussing alcohol use with emerging adult children,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the Journal of adolescent health.

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