Aims To examine the importance of family management, family structure and father–adolescent relationships on early adolescent alcohol use.
Design Cross-sectional data was collected across 30 randomly selected Australian communities stratified to represent a range of socio-economic and regional variation.
Setting Data were collected during school time from adolescents attending a broad range of schools.
Participants The sample consisted of a combined 8256 students (aged 10–14 years).
Measurements Students completed a web-based survey as part of the Healthy Neighbourhoods project.
Findings Family management—which included practices such as parental monitoring and family rules about alcohol use—had the strongest and most consistent relationship with alcohol use in early adolescence. Adolescents reporting higher family management were less likely to have drunk alcohol in their life-time, less likely to drink alcohol in the preceding 30 days and less likely to have had an alcohol binge. Adolescents reporting emotionally close relationships with their fathers were less likely to have drunk alcohol in their life-time and less likely to have had an alcohol binge in the preceding fortnight.
Conclusions Findings indicate that family management practices may contribute to alcohol abstinence in adolescents. Furthermore, emotionally close father–adolescent relationships may also foster abstinence; however, fathers’ drinking behaviours need to be considered.