Alcohol and your child

November 14th, 2012 by The issue of Alcohol in

How do you handle the issue of alcohol with your children as they grow up? 

A recent study, found that the more permissive parenting approach to alcohol, the more likely teens would end up with drinking problems. :

This study ‘conducted jointly by the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia, and the Social Development Research Group in Seattle, U.S. ,looked at more than 1,900 12 and 13 year olds , compared teens whose parents had more permissive drinking attitudes to those who did not.  “It found that young teens allowed to drink under parent supervision drank more overall than their peers, and were a third more likely to experience 'alcohol-related consequences' such as fighting or blackouts.”

Here are a few questions to consider when you are deciding your course of action regarding teenage drinking.

Is it ok for my kids to drink socially and what does that mean when they are at a party, one drink, two,three?

If you are proactive and involve yourself in their drinking will they handle it better?

Do you want to be the one introducing alcohol – using yourself as a guide- what message are you sending- is this your opinion or experience?

If you are introducing alcohol are you then condoning the use more than you are guiding and proposing restrictions?

What is the ultimate take away message for your children?

What side of this dilemma are you on?

MY opnion based on experience with all sorts of children and parenting styles – I believe no matter how you introduce it, if you act as the bartender then you are condoning it and increasing the opportunities for abuse. “Children allowed to drink by liberal parents are more likely to abuse alcohol”, is the overriding take home message from this study. “A separate Dutch study claimed that it was the amount of alcohol available at home, and not how much parents drank, that influenced how much children drunk themselves.”‘According to the findings from this study researchers stated that Middle class parents who let their children have the odd glass of wine or beer in an effort to take away the 'illicit thrill' of booze are actually doing more harm than good, they say’ undermining what many parents believe to be a good way of alcohol introduction; this study found that‘ ‘Allowing teenagers to drink small amounts at home while underage has long been considered a good way of demystifying alcohol and encouraging responsible drinking - but the new study shows that it sends out 'mixed signals' to youngsters.’ “ do as I say not as I do” Once again the biggest resource and influence for your children is who you are and how you live and what they are witness to- sanctioning drinking “ letting them have a sip or try it” at any age does not seem to help.

As a Pediatrician in communication with thousands of parents and teenagers - is that you cannot protect them enough or prepare them adequately by trying to be cool or their friend by offering drinking tips when they are with their peers.. The only take home message they get is that it is ok to drink,– what they really want from their parents is real guidance and boundaries –. The lead author of the study  Dr Barbara McMorris, from the University of Minnesota, said: 'Both studies show that parents matter.  The study proves that “parents still have a big impact” even if they are away and with their friends. She went on to say: 'Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies”, a clear role without any second guessing. 'Kids need black and white messages early on. - 'Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. 'Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase.'

They need you as an absolute reference point. In other similar studies it has been found that even though teens in general can be challenging and want their own space and move towards peers and away from the family; they tend to associate and gravitate to groups or other teens that are in their comfort zone. In other words they find like people who had similar home experiences who had parents who instilled similar values- people who make them feel good about their choices and values, people who were given the same instructions and guidance. When teens go out in the world they compare notes, they either reinforce the positive messages or negative ones.

Please feel free to post your response!