According to Dr. Terrill Bravender, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, adolescents whose parents monitor and are aware of their activities participate in fewer risky behaviors, including alcohol use – especially if they are females. Parenting styles that include high levels of warmth and support, supervision and open communication yielded much more positive results and enhanced family connectedness. This family connectedness also helps protect against a variety of risky adolescent behaviors including early sexual activity and tobacco and alcohol use.
Recent studies also reveal that early-maturing females are at higher risk of this kind of behavior, so parental interaction is of utmost importance. Girls who begin puberty earlier tend to spend more time with peers who have already gone through puberty as well. These older peers, by nature, are much more likely to participate in high-risk activities – putting the younger females, who are are often less able to assess the risks and benefits of their behavior due to a lagging maturity, at higher risk.
Parents of early maturing girls, take heart, though, because higher levels of parental supervision can help reduce the behavioral risks caused by their early puberty. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true as well — the less parents supervise, the more teens drink, the more teens drink, the less parents supervise, and so on. Bottom line: it’s never too late to supervise your children and confirm what they are doing. The benefits could definitely outweigh the potential consequences.