In the U.K., about half the kids have seen their parents tipsy or drunk, and a third can point to a negative outcome. These aren’t drunks, they’re people who moderate amounts of alcohol, three or four drinks per week.
When their parents drink, children most commonly reported getting less attention (12%) and being put to bed later than usual (11%). They also felt parents argued more (8%) and behaved in a more unpredictable way (8%).
Just over half the adults in the study reported drinking to relax or feel happier, and 29% said that was almost always the reason they drank. About 1 in 4 said they sometimes drink when they feel depressed or nervous, or to escape their problems.
Children were more than twice as likely to report a negative outcome when parents reported drinking for negative reasons.
In what seems like a blinding glimpse of the obvious, the more the parents drank, the worse things became for the kids. Children whose parents drank at the highest level (more than 26 drinks in the last 28 days) were more than twice as likely to report negative outcomes as children whose parents drank less.
The impact of parents’ drinking seemed lower in 14- to 17-year-olds, but the authors said further research is needed to find out why.
Lucy Bryant, a co-author of the study, said:
“It is possible the older age-group truly experience less harm, but it is also likely some of the negative outcomes we presented, for example, playing less, might not have resonated with them.”
Of course, it’s also likely that by the time the kids are 15 or so they’re just happy the parents aren’t bugging them.