In 2012, New Zealand high school students reported that their parents were the most common source of alcohol [20].

Overall,  young New Zealand drinkers in 2012 reported getting alcohol from the following sources:

  • Parents (60%)
  • Friends (44%)
  • Buy their own (11%)
  • Someone else buys it for them – not a parent (30%).

Beyond parents directly supplying alcohol to their children, parents also play a major role in the supervision of drinking. This is because the majority of young New Zealanders consume alcohol at someone else’s home or in their own home [21]. In a New Zealand survey in 2012, drinking occasions of New Zealand adolescents commonly occurred with friends (83%), family (53%), and/or with another person (15%) [22]. A higher proportion of students who lived in deprived neighbourhoods (59%) drank with their family when compared to those living in the least deprived neighbourhood (49%).

Interestingly, it has been shown that parents tend to be more concerned with the short-term consequences (e.g., car accidents) of alcohol use by their children than the long-term outcomes (e.g., impaired brain development)[23].

Overall, parents influence adolescent alcohol use in the following ways:

  • offering sips and tastes
  • allowing and supervising adolescent alcohol use
  • hosting an alcohol event (e.g., in the home, at a family gathering)
  • providing alcohol.

Parental supply of alcohol to adolescents has been shown to be linked to increased risky drinking and alcohol-related harm. In a review of all studies which followed adolescents over time, those who were supplied alcohol by their parents (compared to those who were not) were twice as likely to be involved in risky drinking [24].

There is no evidence to support the common belief that parents can “socialise” their children by providing them with alcohol and a “safe place” to drink. Rather, it is strongly recommended that parents delay alcohol use by their children. Willingness to provide alcohol is likely to be perceived by a young person as communicating approval of their drinking.

Click here for a factsheet on the harms from drinking in adolescence

Click here for a factsheet on trends in adolescent drinking in New Zealand

Click here for a factsheet on the role of alcohol availability in adolescent drinking