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Danish young people: Parents are welcome to interfere in our drinking habits

podcast The Health Mission

12.03.2024 - Parents should not hesitate to make agreements about alcohol with their child, shows a new study. It can be difficult as a parent to assess how much you can and should interfere in your child's drinking habits. Does your teenage child want to talk about alcohol, and does the child actually listen?

But parents of teenagers actually have a significant influence on their child's drinking habits – and the young people listen more than the parents might think. A new study from the Danish Cancer Society and the Tryg Foundation shows that teenagers do want the dialogue.

81% of 15-20-year-olds living at home don't mind their parents interfering in their drinking habits. In fact, 48% think either well or very well of their parents' involvement concerning alcohol, while only 15% think poorly of it.

  • It's really positive that many young people actually want to have a dialogue about alcohol, says project manager at the Danish Cancer Society, Peter Dalum.

In March, the application deadline for the country's youth education programs, including the high schools, is due, which for many young people also means more parties and more alcohol.

  • Therefore, we encourage parents to seize this opportunity and talk to their teenager about alcohol. Previous studies also show that young people who have agreements about alcohol with their parents often adhere to these agreements and drink less, he states.

Alcohol dialogue at parent meetings

Alcohol consumption increases for many young people when they start a youth education program. Yet, the new figures show that alcohol is not often discussed at parent meetings in gymnasial education. In fact, only one in four parents with a child in gymnasial education experiences that alcohol has been addressed at a parent meeting, while the same applies to six out of ten parents with a child in primary school. When alcohol is not discussed at parent meetings, parents do not have the opportunity to have the same dialogue with other parents about the young people's alcohol consumption.

  • Parent meetings focusing on alcohol can remind parents that they still have an impact on their child's alcohol consumption. Even when the teenager has started a youth education program and can buy alcohol themselves. It's really important to remind the parents, explains Peter Dalum.

Too much alcohol can not only spoil a fun evening but also have more serious consequences. Every year, about 30,000 young people end up in the emergency room because of alcohol. So, even though one's child starts a youth education program, it's still important for a parent to interfere, talk to their child about drinking habits, and make clear agreements.

About the numbers

The figures in the article come from two different questionnaire surveys. One was conducted among 1,497 parents with at least one child aged 13-17 years. Data was collected by the analysis bureau Epinion in the period from November 14 to December 25, 2022, and is nationally representative of the parents' gender, child's age, and region. In the survey, parents were asked about their knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding young people and alcohol.

The other survey was conducted among 1,026 young people aged 15-25 years. Data for this was collected by the analysis bureau Norstat, and the data is nationally representative of gender, age, and region. In this note, only 15-20-year-olds living at home, whose parents interfere in their drinking habits, are included.

Read the study here

What can you do as parents?

It can be difficult for parents to start the conversation about alcohol when their children suddenly become teenagers who go to parties and maybe drink alcohol. How should one bring up the subject? And does one's child even listen?

These are some very natural questions to ask oneself. But fortunately, there is help to be found. At, parents can find inspiration for taking a stance, talking together, and making agreements with their teenager about alcohol. It's the Danish Cancer Society and the Tryg Foundation's alcohol initiative 'Full of life' that is behind this.

The Danish Cancer Society has also released a mini podcast series that can make parents and others more knowledgeable about the parents' role with teenage children, what happens in a young teenage brain, and how to talk to your teenager about alcohol.

All three episodes can be found here

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