I have never talked to my children about alcohol. So if a campaign running at the moment is to be believed that must make me an irresponsible parent. “Who is the designated talker?” scream huge adverts in magazines.
Er there isn’t one in this house. So am I failing my children? Am I bringing them up to be alcoholics?
I know about alcoholics. Don’t ask me how, it’s personal but suffice to say in my extended family there have been members who have really struggled with alcohol addiction so I am well aware of how it works. This also means I have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
I don’t think talking to children about “the dangers of alcohol” is the right way of educating our children at all. Children don’t want you to sit them down and say “now then, I am going to talk to you about alcohol”. That is just nonsense. They also don’t want their parents saying “right, alcohol is evil. Don’t touch the damn stuff”. Because what is that going to do?
Yep, send them down the offie quicker than you can say Cheeky Vimto with a Jagerbomb chaser.
What we have in this house is a healthy respect for alcohol. We have it in the house, the children have access to it, they are offered a drink whenever they want one, they see Mr B and I drinking. That is how it has always been. And do you know what? They don’t bother. Unless we are on holiday and they might have a pina colada, but even then invariably they don’t bother.
The earlier you talk to your children about the harms of alcohol the better equipped they are to deal with peer pressure.
What? Sorry but I think that is a load of crap. Peer pressure is peer pressure and it is relentless. Do the campaigners really think that children are going to ignore peer pressure because they can quote the damage it does to livers and skin? No. I don’t think so either.
What children need is for adults to drink responsibly. For adults to be seen having a glass of wine at the end of the day. Or a beer with the football on the telly at lunchtime on a Saturday. They need adults to drink it in moderation and learn that alcohol is not evil.
What good is talking about the dangers of alcohol if children then just see their parents drinking (even if in moderation?). It is sending mixed signals, surely?
That is what my three teens have grown up with. Seeing Mr B and I have a drink with dinner, me having a Martini (even, shock horror, two or three pints of Martini and lemonade) Mr B having a few beers on a Friday night. They see us drinking it, enjoying it, and then stopping. They see we have a healthy respect for it. They don’t hear us talking about “the dangers of alcohol”.
Alcohol is not dangerous. What is dangerous is not having a respect for it. Not knowing how to drink, and crucially, stop. Knowing that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time and that going out with the sole intention of getting drunk is not a great reason to go out.
My eldest two are old enough to drink. Do they go out and get drunk? Nope. I am not so naive as to think it hasn’t happened, of course it has, but they have a healthy respect for money and know that there is no point going out and spending £6 on a glass of vodka when they can get together with mates at home and buy a bottle for just over double that amount. They also know that they can have fun with their mates and not have alcohol at all.
You put something on a pedestal and what happens? Children will spend all their time trying to reach it.
Many people of my age grew up with dads going to social clubs on a Sunday lunch time getting out of the way whilst mum cooked dinner. The kids went too. They went out with their parents, saw them drinking, and saw them coming home again, having their dinner and then a cheeky nap. They grew up around alcohol. Our parents didn’t talk about it to us and tell us it was evil!
Is it any coincidence that we have a “No sex please, we are British” approach to talking about sex and one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe?? We don’t talk about sex in healthy relationships, we talk about HIV and rabbits in school (and I don’t mean the Ann Summers type)
Sorry, but I think this campaign insisting we “warn of the dangers” is misguided, and in itself dangerous.