How to Responsibly Include Children in Adult Focused Activities
When having parties, I usually keep activities between my friends and my kids separate. If I plan to have friends over for BBQ I will do it when my kids are visiting their Dad. If I am attending an event that is mostly geared towards adults, I will not take my kids. There are just some environments were kids do not belong.
I love to entertain. Just last month we hosted 27 friends and neighbors at our house for a BBQ. The crowd was made up mostly of friends that we know from high school. We make it a point to keep in touch and get together a few times a year. My kids were not home at the time. It was an adult-focused party.
However keeping my children away from events that include adults and drinking cannot always be helped. I just got married this past June, and of course my kids were heavily involved. They were all a part of the bridal party. Part of the planning included arranging for an open bar with a bartender. Weddings are a cause for celebration, and because of this most of them include alcohol to complement the reception festivities. While planning one of my daughters expressed concern about the fact that there would be alcohol. She is only 12, but she already has a good idea about what can happen when adults consume too much alcohol. They have seen this first hand at family functions.
This was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about the importance of alcohol use in moderation and just saying no. We talked and I assured her that things would be fine. I told her that we were not going to let anyone get too intoxicated and out of hand. And I told them that there would be plenty of juice and water on hand for guests as well.
I certainly do not shelter my children. However, there is no need for them to be unnecessarily exposed to risky adult behaviors. They will have plenty of time to get used to that as they get older. But sometimes we cannot help it. Birthday parties, family reunions, funerals, and other family events tend to bring both children and adults together to celebrate. It is at these times when kids may be exposed to adults and drinking. When decided whether or not to allow my kids to attend certain events I will keep in mind that adults that will be in attendance. If it is close family chances are that they are mindful of the kid’s presence and they will act responsibly. If it is a rowdy crowd it might be a different story, and in this case I may decide not to take my children.
You can prepare your children for attending events where alcohol may be in use by talking to them ahead of time. Explain to them that most adults know how to drink responsibly. Tell them that one glass of wine with lunch or dinner will not cause intoxication in an adult. And it is important to know how to say no, especially when driving. However at the same time they need to know that it is not healthy for children or teens to consume alcohol at all. The key is to communicate. You do not have to lie to your children. You do not have to pretend that you do not drink at all. And it is even ok to have a glass of wine in your children’s presence as long as you do so in moderation, talk to them, and teach them the importance of alcohol responsibility.