A qualitative study on the way parental social norms play a role in parents’ rules setting about alcohol use of their children.
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During adolescence most youths start using substances. Because of the detrimental effects of alcohol use on adolescents, it is relevant to investigate which factors influence their drinking behaviour. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study using Grounded Theory to discover how social norms influence parents’ way of setting rules for their children’s’ alcohol use. Existing data from a larger quasi-experimental study were used and additional interviews were conducted. The sample consists of 24 participants including parents with children from 10 to 18 years old who live in one municipality in the Netherlands. Data of the interviews were analysed with NVivo. Findings indicate that parents set rules for their children’s alcohol use in a way that adheres to the prevailing social norms among parents about alcohol use. Parents (unconsciously) experience peer pressure to alter their rules, even if these rules do not comply to their own norms about substance use among children. This implicates that social norms among parents greatly influence the way parents set rules for the alcohol use of their children. This should be taken into account when policymakers opt for new intervention strategies to tackle underage drinking.