Stay up to date with

Age matters when speaking with children about alcohol, survey says

This guest blog was authored by Martin Block, Ph.D., Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University

Findings from a recent national online tracking survey revealed just over four out of five parents with children between the ages of 6 and 17 are talking to their children about alcohol and have spoken to them nearly four times in the past six months, on average. The average age that parents believe they should begin talking with their child is 9.7 years of age.

When speaking with children about alcohol, age matters. Age of the oldest child is a key variable in determining whether or not alcohol has been discussed. The focus of these conversations also varies by age. Households with teens are more likely to talk about the dangers of underage drinking, while families with tweens are more likely to talk about alcohol consumption on special occasions. In every case, discussions occur more frequently with teenaged children. 

  • 60% of parents with children only (6- to 9-year-olds) in their household have discussed alcohol with them. The conversations in these “kid only” families center on alcohol consumption being part of special occasions and for adults and tend not to cover danger and trouble concepts (e.g., dangers of drunk driving, getting into trouble, etc.)
  • 81% of parents in tween only (10- to 12-year-olds) households report speaking with their children about alcohol. These “tween only” parents tend to focus their conversations on both concepts – dangers and trouble and for special occasions and for adults – when discussing underage drinking with their tweens.
  • 90% of parents with teens only (13- to 17-year-olds) are talking with their teenagers about alcohol. Their conversations have transitioned from covering both concepts (dangers and trouble and for special occasions and for adults) to focusing in on danger and trouble concepts, specifically.

At we know how important it is to discuss alcohol responsibility with children beginning at an early age.’s #TalkEarly initiative was created to empower parents and provide them with useful tools and resources to help get these conversations and create a foundation for a lifetime of conversation around alcohol responsibility with their kids from an early age.  To get advice from parenting bloggers on how to start tough conversations check out their video interviews and be sure to follow us @goFAAR.      

Join the discussion and share your thoughts and opinions on talking with kids about alcohol and responsibility by participating in the latest survey.

Receive the Latest News and Research

Welcome to! We’d love to have you as part of our community. We send updates on how you can help end drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and make responsible choices about alcohol. Get our news straight to your inbox.

No Thanks