A Comparison of Parents’ and Students’ Reports of General and Alcohol-Specific Parenting Behaviors Across the Four Years of College

Bradley M. Trager, Nichole M. Sell, Brittney A. Hultgren, Rob Turrisi, Reed M. Morgan, Joseph W. Labrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Whether college students’ reports of their parents’ behaviors are as reliable a predictor of student drinking as their parents’ own reports remains an open question and a point of contention in the literature. To address this, the current study examined concordance between college student and mother/father reports of the same parenting behaviors relevant to parent-based college drinking interventions (relationship quality, monitoring, and permissiveness), and the extent to which student and parental reports differed in their relation to college drinking and consequences. Method: The sample consisted of 1,429 students and 1,761 parents recruited from three large public universities in the United States (814 mother–daughter, 563 mother–son, 233 father– daughter, and 151 father–son dyads). Students and their parents were each invited to complete four surveys over the course of the students’ first 4 years of college (one survey per year). Results: Paired samples t tests revealed that parental reports of parenting constructs were typically more conservative than student reports. Intraclass correlations revealed moderate associations between parental and student reports on relationship quality, general monitoring, and permissiveness. The associations between parenting constructs and drinking and consequences were also consistent when using parental and student reports of permissiveness. Results were generally consistent for all four types of dyads, and at each of the four time points. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings provide additional support for the use of student reports of parental behaviors as a valid proxy of parents’ actual reports and as a reliable predictor of college student drinking and consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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