The authors of research by the think-tank Demos said it was “not enough” for parents to wait until their children were in bed before opening the bottle, because their interviews suggested “children are more aware than they are often given credit for.”
They added: “Nor does this mean that parents can never drink in the presence of their children. But it does mean that parents should bear in mind how frequently they are drinking – particularly in front of their children.”
The two-year study, Feeling the Effects, studied the lives of 17,000 in Birth Cohort Study and in-depth interviews with 50 families where there was at least one problem drinkers.
Parents with high alcohol consumption were less likely to practise the “tough love” type of parenting which best stops children developing traits associated with excessive drinking, the authors, Jonathan Birdwell, Emma Vandore and Bryanna Hahn, said.
They found that teenagers who perceived their mother to drink “always” were almost two times more likely to drink hazardously themselves as adults than those who reported that their mother drank “sometimes”.