Open Lines: Communicating with your kids about alcohol
Do you talk to your kids about the tough topics? Do you turn beet red and shy away when asked where babies come from? Or do you worry that your kids don’t ask you enough questions? Although it can be tough and sometimes uncomfortable, when you are a parent it is very important that your children feel at ease when talking to you. I know that I would much rather my kids approach me to ask sensitive questions rather than asking a classmate.
Last month we talked a bit about Talking to Your Kids about Responsible Alcohol Use. In continuing this conversation it is important to know when to take advantage of situations that can foster a useful conversation with our children about responsible alcohol use.
Building strong relationships and friendships with our children is important since we want them to talk to us about easy topics as well as more difficult ones such as drinking. As kids grow up, it may get harder and harder for them to feel comfortable talking to their parents. They succumb to peer pressure. They may listen to other kids say that it’s not cool to be “friends” with your parents. My girls are now 12 years old. So far I’ve been lucky. They still love hanging out with me. And since I know that the tween/teen years can be hard I am on a mission to make sure that they still dig me and think that I am a cool enough mom to have a conversation with, even if it is about sensitive subjects.
How do you know how to start a conversation? How do you know what to say? Starting a conversation about underage drinking isn’t easy, but it has to be done. Here in my home, we have had several conversations over the past months as I planned my wedding. This was a great time to talk to my children about responsible alcohol use. And luckily it worked out great.
Below are a few other ideas for when to discuss alcohol use with your children.The
- While Watching the News – There are often stories on the news about crashes occurring from DUIs. I have explained to my children what the acronym stands for, and explained to them why it is important to not drive drunk.
- Before a Family Gathering – Of course we all hope that all adults drink responsibly, especially around children. Unfortunately, we cannot control what other adults choose to do. Have a conversation with your children about how adults may drink during the family function, and how not all adults act the same after ingesting alcohol.
- While Watching Movies – Movies have a way of glorifying drinking. Explain to your children that a movie is just a movie. While alcohol use may be made to be pure comedy in movies, that is not real life. In real life alcohol use can impair your motor skills, and judgement which may lead to consequences. Adults under the influence may act different, but it is not always harmless comedy.
- When They Ask a Question – Earlier today we took my mother to the grocery store. One of the things that she put in her shopping cart was a bottle of wine. My daughter, who already has a very strong opinion on drinking asked her why she needed the wine. This was a great opportunity to have a conversation about the reasons why adults drink, as well as doing it responsibly.
Using these examples to start a conversation with your kids about responsible alcohol use, or other sensitive subjects will let them know that it is ok to approach you when they have questions. Talk to them as you would anyone else. Do not make them feel bad about asking questions. Be very sensitive to their feelings and make sure that they know that there are no dumb questions when it comes to asking about responsible alcohol use.
Check out the Ask, Listen, Learn Blog for more great ideas on When & How to Discuss Alcohol with your children.
At what age did you start the conversation with your children? What is some advice that you have for other parents?