The Government has binge drinking firmly in its sights: earlier this year David Cameron said that binge drinking would be ‘attacked from every angle’. While the focus of policy tends to be on tackling public disorder, the worst damage done by hazardous drinking in the UK is in the home. According to the latest figures, more than 2.5 million children in the UK, including 90,000 babies, are living with a parent who is drinking alcohol ‘hazardously’.

In Under the Influence, Demos research found that parenting style has a significant impact on children’s drinking behaviour as teenagers and later in life as adults. ‘Tough love’ parenting – a parenting style that combines warmth with consistent discipline – is the best protection against young people drinking hazardously. In this report we go further to consider the impact of parental drinking behaviour on parenting style. Based on original quantitative analysis as well as in-depth interviews with 50 alcohol-affected families, our findings suggest that the more a parent drinks, the less likely they are to be a ‘tough love’ parent.

Parenting can be stressful, and the majority of parents drink alcohol responsibly. But parents need to be aware of the impact their parenting style and how drinking excessively can effect this. This report argues for targeted information awareness campaigns aimed at parents to help them consider their parenting style and the impact of alcohol on parenting ability. The report also recommends that ‘family-based’ interventions should put more emphasis on parenting advice, to ensure that those struggling with alcohol misuse can still be effective parents.