Drinking has been a part of humankind's lifestyle in almost all cultures. Along with it, conversations revolving around its affects have existed forever. Alcohol affects people in different ways at different stages of their life. When children and adolescents are addicted to alcohol, it poses threat to their brain development. Talking about alcohol and its aftermaths with children is difficult too. This is because as children grow up they mature and seek independence. With time, it might become difficult for parents to establish concrete rules and limitations in terms of alcohol use. Certain parents might find it a little bit difficult to communicate with their children and adolescents about alcohol-related issues.
According to research, teens and young adults consider the idea that their parents do have a say in their choice to drink alcohol. Parenting is very important in this matter. Children who are raised with encouragement, warmth, and effective discipline tend to respect their parents and their decisions. It is very important for parents to understand the influence that their parenting will have on their children. Whether a parent becomes aware of it through conscious or unconscious efforts, the main motive is to have more positive influence or limitation in their children's alcohol use. Parents can greatly influence their children's attitude towards drinking while minimizing its risk.
Alcohol usage of adolescents has always been active as a pervasive problem. Though the statistics in terms of adolescents drinking has seen a small decline, the numbers are still identified as high. A recent report suggested that about 25.6 percent of teenagers pick up the habit of drinking by the 8th grade. Along with it, about 41.7 percent of children turn out drunk at least once by the 12th grade.
Many parents are of the view that if they allow their children to drink at home, they will develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. However, studies suggest the opposite. According to a study of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students, whose parents allowed them to drink in their home; they gained a steep escalation towards drinking by the 9th grade. Some other studies also suggest that adolescents who receive permission to drink at home drink more heavily outside of the home. In contrast, it was seen that adolescents are less likely to drink heavily if they live in homes where parents establish specific rules against drinking at a young age and also have a responsible drinking habit within themselves. However, not all studies suggest that parental provision of alcohol to teens leads to trouble.For instance, one study showed that drinking with a parent in the proper context (such as a sip of alcohol at an important family function) can be a protective factor against alcohol misuse. In other contexts, parental provision of alcohol serves as a direct risk factor for alcohol misuse, as is the case when parents provide alcohol for parties attended or hosted by their adolescents. Overall, it can be speculated that permissive attitudes toward adolescent drinking, particularly when combined with poor communication and unhealthy modeling, can lead teens into unhealthy relationships with alcohol.
But it is sure that parents do influence whether and when adolescents begin drinking as well as how their children drink. A healthy environment can be created only when family policies about adolescent drinking in the home are established properly. Additionally parents own drinking habit also influences the same. For instance, if you choose to drink, always model responsible alcohol consumption. As a parent you can undertake the following steps to make sure your children don't pick up a problematic drinking habit.
Start the conversations early. Adolescents who know their parents' opinions about youth drinking are more likely to fall in line with their expectations.
Establish and enforce policies as early as possible. Adolescents do feel that parents should have a say in decisions about drinking, and they maintain this deference to parental authority as long as they perceive the message to be legitimate. Consistency is central to legitimacy.
Work with other parents to monitor where kids are gathering and what they are doing. Being involved in the lives of adolescents is a key to keeping them safe.
Work in and with the community to promote dialogue about underage drinking and the creation and implementation of action steps to address it.
Be aware of your State's laws about providing alcohol to your own children.
Never provide alcohol to someone else's child.
With open, respectful communication and explanations of boundaries and expectations, parents can continue to influence their children's decisions well into adolescence and beyond. This decisions of yours, regarding whether and how to drink, that you inflict on your children will have lifetime consequences on them.
Also Read: How to Talk about Mental Illness with your Children