Children are almost twice as likely to have been drunk or consuming alcohol every month if their parents are heavy drinkers, a survey has found.
The link between the drinking habits of parents and their children's relationship to alcohol was revealed in a study by the independent charity Drinkaware.
It found that 19% of youngsters who had parents drinking over recommended guidelines had been drunk before, compared with 11% of children whose parents drink below the guidelines or not at all. Similarly, 21% of children with heavy-drinking parents drink at least monthly in comparison with just 12% of youngsters whose parents do not exceed guidelines.
Siobhan McCann, head of campaigns and communications at Drinkaware, said: "Most parents want their children to grow up with a healthy relationship with alcohol and try to set a good example.
"The problem is that some parents drink above the guidelines without realising and this in turn influences their children's attitudes and behaviour. When it comes to alcohol, parents have the biggest influence on their children and lots of children would turn to their parents first for advice."
The research, carried out by Ipsos Mori, polled 1,433 parents from social grades ABC1 across the UK and 652 of their children aged 10 to 17.
It showed that parents who drink above the unit guidelines also have a more relaxed attitude to underage drinking than parents who are teetotal or drink within the guidelines.
They are more likely to think it is inevitable that children under 16 will drink and more likely to think it is fine for parents to give alcohol to youngsters that age. They are also less likely to think their own drinking has the biggest effect on their children's attitude to alcohol.
To coincide with the study, Drinkaware has published advice for parents about festive drinking which was compiled by a panel of mothers including Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton, TV's Dr Sarah Jarvis and parenting expert Sue Atkins.
Ms Longton said: "It's so important that parents are aware of the facts and feel confident talking to their kids about alcohol. With Christmas just round the corner, it's likely that children will be more aware of alcohol and might become curious about trying a drink."