Teens who said their parents show high levels of both warmth and monitoring were least likely to report heavy drinking. ((CBC))

Parenting style might not stop teens from trying alcohol but mom and dad might influence whether the child drinks heavily, a new study suggests.

The study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs is based on a survey of 4,983 participants aged 12 to 19 about their drinking habits and relationships with parents.

Adolescents who said their parents were authoritative, meaning they show high levels of both warmth and monitoring, were least prone to report heavy drinking, according to the study by Stephen Bahr, a professor in Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah's College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, and co-author John Hoffmann.

"While parents didn't have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking," Bahr said in a release.

Bahr suggested keeping tabs on how teens spend their time away from home and sharing a warm relationship with them rather than trying to control behaviour.

The other parenting styles considered in the study were:

  • Indulgent — Low on accountability but high on warmth.
  • Strict — high accountability and low on warmth.

Those with indulgent parents showed nearly triple the risk of participating in heavy drinking, and strict parents more than doubled the risk of such drinking, the researchers found.

The study also looked at whether participants who attended religious services frequently and ranked religion as important were less likely to drink any alcohol.

The study can't state definitively whether parenting style alone influences teen drinking, though the study's researchers said other research points to such as link.

The researchers also acknowledged that adolescent reports of parental support may not reflect the actual behaviour of parents or parents' attitudes toward alcohol use.