Many wonder if parental drinking impacts adolescent drinking, although most assume it does. It is not a question of “if” but a question of “how” and “how much?” It has been proven that parental drinking does in fact influence adolescent drinking. Most individuals begin drinking alcohol in adolescence: this is a time of initiation for alcohol use.
Findings reported in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research indicate that parental drinking impacts both adolescent drinking as well as adolescent’s perceptions of parenting. They concluded that what parents do as individuals and how they behave as parents in regards to alcohol both have a huge impact on their children’s alcohol use.
In regards to how to effectively parent and drink in front of your children, drinkaware.co.uk has some useful advice. They indicate that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t drink in front of your children. Instead, you should set a good example by drinking in moderation and being open with them about alcohol. Further, they say to “talk to your kids. Be open with them. “ And, they indicate, “research shows that from a young age children learn about acceptable behavior by observing and copying their parents, so when it comes to drinking, it really is a case of leading by example.”
In other words, what kids see at home helps them think about how they’ll drink alcohol as an adult. The say, “just as children learn to walk and talk like their parents, they learn how to drink like them too. For example, there’s evidence that children whose parents drink moderately in front of them are less likely to drink to excess.”
Drinkaware.co.uk also has some great guidelines for parents to follow to show they are responsible about drinking. You can follow these simple tips to demonstrate your own responsible attitude to drinking:
- Drink within the government’s daily unit guidelines. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation. Use the tool below to find out if you are drinking within the daily unit guidelines.
- Don’t feel hypocritical for drinking when you have told them they can’t. Instead, explain that alcohol is only for adults because their bodies have finished growing, and even adults have rules about how much they can drink.
- Talk to your kids about different drinks having different strengths and let them know alcohol is measured in units. You could order a unit measure cup and show them what different measures of drink look like.
- Sometimes it can seem like there’s always an excuse to drink, but children notice if their parents have different drinking patterns at special occasions or on holiday. To avoid confusing them, keep up a conversation that explains that usually you stick to the daily unit guidelines.
- If you do drink too much occasionally and have a hangover, don’t try and hide the symptoms, instead talk openly to your child about how you’re feeling, for example, having a headache or feeling sick and let them know the effects would be worse for them as they’re smaller and developing. This way they know too much alcohol can have a negative consequence and you avoid making alcohol a taboo subject.
Basically, parental drinking has a direct impact upon kids. How parents communicate with their kids and monitor themselves can determine if the outcome is positive or negative.