Introduction and Aims: A growing body of research indicates parental supply of alcohol to children and adolescents is common. The present study aimed to examine parents' reasons for supplying alcohol to adolescents that they may find hard to articulate or not be consciously aware of.
Design and Methods: A projective methodology was used, whereby respondents were asked to explain the thoughts and motivations of a gender-matched parent in a scenario in which the parent did or did not provide alcohol to their teenage child. Respondents were 97 mothers and 83 fathers of teenagers who completed an anonymous online survey. Open-ended responses were coded thematically; t-tests were used to compare quantitative responses between the scenarios.
Results: The quantitative analysis found the parent who provided alcohol was less likely to be seen as making sure their child was safe and educating them about boundaries, but more likely to be seen as being a friend as well as a parent and (for females only) making sure their child fits in with others. The open-ended responses showed explanations for not providing alcohol most commonly focused on ensuring the child's safety, obeying the law, and setting rules and boundaries, and for providing alcohol focused on ensuring the child fit in with peers and beliefs about harm minimisation.
Discussion and Conclusions: The findings suggest that these respondents (parents) harboured a number of misperceptions about underage drinking and experienced conflicts in weighing up the perceived benefits of providing alcohol to their children against the risks of adolescent drinking.