The DOs and DON’Ts
Did you know that April is national Alcohol Awareness Month? April 21st in particular is dedicated towards counseling kids and teens about the dangers of alcohol. Underage drinking is a very common public health issue all over the world, but it’s especially complicated in the United States.
Even though there are strict laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol in America, young adults and children under the age of 21 still drink in significant numbers. In fact, according to research conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), people aged 12 – 20 drink up to 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States.
This translates into millions of young lives vulnerable to addiction, injury, or death, every single month. If you are a parent with children maturing into adolescence, Alcohol Awareness Month is a great opportunity to have a serious talk with your child about sobriety and responsible drinking. Here are few dos and don’ts on how to approach the subject:
Do Set a Good Example: People have different ways of learning beliefs and values, but when it comes to discipline, the vast majority of kids learn more from what their parents demonstrate, than what their parents say. Regardless of how much you might personally enjoy alcoholic beverages, never allow your children to see you drunk and disorderly.
Don’t Think Short-Term: When it comes to substance-abuse and addiction, your child’s entire fate lies in the palm of your hands. As you prepare to talk to your child about drinking, remember that this isn’t just about influencing their behavior here and now. It’s about teaching them to behave well for the rest of their lives.
Do Know Your Facts: Before having any kind of a discussion with your children about health and safety, do a little research to ensure that you can speak to them with knowledgeable authority. Never resort to urban legends or scare tactics as a way to persuade them. Not only does that misinform them, it increases the chances they’ll make bad decisions.
Don’t Put it Off: No matter how sure you might feel about the fact that your children don’t drink, never procrastinate having serious discussions with them about the dangers of alcohol. The values you instill in them should be prominent, and rooted so firmly, that no peer pressure or outside influence in future will override your voice.
Do Sympathize with Their Experiences: There isn’t a parent in the world who doesn’t want to prevent their kids from making mistakes, but, if you get caught up in being a relentless disciplinarian, you might end up projecting insensitivity or obliviousness to the reasons why your child is likely to consume alcohol. Don’t talk at them, talk with them.
Underage drinking is a stepping stone to a deluge of problems in life. It lowers life expectancy, it increases the chances of sexual assault, it interferes with biological development, and it fosters dependence on chemical substances for survival – just to name a few.
There are many different ways that parents can stop kids from consuming alcohol, but arguably the most effective method is to teach them about responsible drinking. Talk to them while they’re young, and talk to them often. Make sure they understand that alcohol has its dangers. The more honest and upfront you are, the better a foundation you’ll set for their future.