Q&A on our drinking culture with Dr Aric Sigman - ANSWERS BACK

(78 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 14-Jun-11 13:51:08

We're joined this week by Dr Aric Sigman, father of four and author of Remotely Controlled and The Spoilt Generation. Dr Aric's new book Alcohol Nation looks at how the way we view alcohol impacts directly upon on our children's present and future health, well being and academic success. He looks at the latest medical research and effects of drinking from a young age, teen-binge drinking and attempts to answer the question; 'How can I reconcile my enjoyment of drinking with ensuring my child grows up knowing how to drink sensibly?'. Send your questions in to Dr Aric Sigman before the end of day on Friday and we'll be linking to his answers from this thread the following week.

scottishmummy Tue 14-Jun-11 22:18:04

Hi Dr Sigman,what influences do you think cultural factors brings to alcohol consumption?Certainly the glasgow ripple effect study showed the ramification of alcohol upon individual and community.This is a really interesting area

I will probably be working so cant participate but will follow with interest

bruxeur Tue 14-Jun-11 22:33:19

Hello Aric! Are you going to use your traditional approach to "looking at the latest medical research", as demonstrated by Ben Goldacre et al, or are you going to read the whole paper (rather than the abstract or press release) before trying to hammer it into a reinforcement of your pop-psych musings?

bethelbeth Tue 14-Jun-11 23:46:44

What exactly do you think that the distilleries/breweries etc should be doing in order to better the current situation? If anything?

MavisEnderby Wed 15-Jun-11 01:07:10

Why do you think that people in the UK feel the need to binge drink?In Southern Europe it seems to be that alcohol can be enjoyed in a sensible manner.(maybe inaccurate generalisation, but from individual/friends experience,valid)TIA

Missingfriendsandsad Wed 15-Jun-11 07:04:27

I live in a small, relatively well-heeled town where the only options in the evening are 1. Pub, Drinking and 2. Restaurant including drinking (typically) apart from one cinema and an intermittent amateur theatre. Often I find the home alternative means more drinking with friends.

A: I can't help thinking that a) if we had a choice of drug (eg mild, legalised cannabis) we would be more healthy and more interesting and b) if we had more options, we might not resort to drinking to fill the gap and make boredom more bearable. What are your thoughts?

B: I also think that value for money distorts our drinking habits - at £3 - £4 a pint many of my group of friends, both men and women, think that its poor value to have weaker beers so plump for beer at 5%+ and I hear younger people saying that if they are going to spend so much they want to ensure they are drunk when they go home. How much of alcohol's relatively high cost in britain accounts for our funny attitude to it?

C: Also I think our culture has an effect. We don't easily enjoy ourselves and often see enjoyment as unseemly unless we can excuse it under 'being drunk'.

An italian friend of mine is always astonished how English people going for a meal can enter a restaurant not talking, not smiling, sit eating good food with only polite conversation, and then leave in silence unsmiling. Italians come in chatting, and leave smiling and chatting whether drinking or not. We seem to be obsessed with two versions of ourselves - the sober one where self-control and reticence is the highest quality, and the drunk one where the opposite is true. Why do we still feel so affronted by emotion in our sober life, and so keen to be overwhelmed by our emotional selves that we take massive hits of a powerful drug to try to quicken the process, but also keep it in a temporary window?

Tee2072 Wed 15-Jun-11 12:07:17

As an American in Belfast, I find the UK attitude to drinking fascinating. You would never have a Christmas Dinner, for example, in the US that included more than a glass or 2 of wine whereas here it is expect that you'll get legless, even with the CEO of your company right there.

What do you think led to this attitude and what can we do to end it and/or educate our children that you don't have to be falling down drunk to have fun?

TheRhubarb Wed 15-Jun-11 12:52:48

Drinking is part of our culture the way it is in other European cultures, however it's the way we have embraced it that is different. We have pubs whereas France, Italy and to some extent Spain do not. There is it unheard of for people to get together merely for the purpose of getting drunk. Alcohol is drunk with meals that are shared with family and friends. They would never consider just drinking for the sake of it.

I'm pleased that many pubs are now restaurants too as I feel that the more families are involved in social activities the less likely we are to get legless. Again in European cultures they go out for the night as a family - babysitters are not needed.

I drink at the weekends usually with a meal, but often we'll have a family walk and then a drink or two at the pub afterwards. I never hide it from the kids and we do talk to them about drunkeness and the dangers not only of alcohol but of being drunk. To my shame, I once drank some homemade wine at a neighbours and it was only when I stood up that I realised I was drunk. I had my 10yo dd with me and she was terrified. But in a way I'm glad she can see how terrible it is to be drunk and how quickly you can lose control.

My sister's husband also drinks heavily and has been very drunk in front of his kids. None of his kids are heavy drinkers and I don't think any of them have been drunk, because they have seen first hand what it does.

I think it's when you incorporate drinking into your daily lives that it becomes dangerous because you are telling your kids that you cannot have a good time without drink, that it's normal to drink every day and that getting drunk is a good laugh that results in funny pics being posted on facebook.

fuzzpigFriday Wed 15-Jun-11 14:11:37

Great topic. Will be checking out those books as well.

My question: I have always been of the view that it's important to let children see alcohol as just a normal thing - no importance, but no mystery either. Letting them taste it if they ask, rather than making it into 'forbidden fruit'. However, we don't drink - not for any moral or health reason, we just don't enjoy it that much. How do we get round it? I worry that even though we aren't overtly banning it, it will still hold a great fascination to our children if they never see it at home, and the first time they encounter it is at teenage parties where it is seen as the best thing ever. What do you think?

MissDemeanor Wed 15-Jun-11 19:51:01

Why can't I drink Tequila?

nethunsreject Wed 15-Jun-11 19:53:14

bruxeur, I applaude you.

ginbob Wed 15-Jun-11 21:32:52

do you agree that the drinking habit is a 'hereditary' disease, if you like; do you feel that it's genetics or upbringing that makes the next generation keep this seemingly British tradition going? What's your recommendations for breaking the cycle (from an individual/family point of view), so that future generations might be less impacted by our current infamous drink culture?

FunnysInTheGarden Wed 15-Jun-11 22:19:06

Hello. Would be very interested to know whether drinking a couple of glasses of wine a night will have any impact on my DC? I am never drunk, ever, and we tend to drink wine after they have gone to bed. I think that this will provide them with healthy role models as far as alcohol is concerned. ie it is a normal part of daily life and quite a positive thing. Am I totally misguided?

Missingfriendsandsad Thu 16-Jun-11 00:44:35

I would like to also ask: British, ie. English Speaking, cultures have dominated the world in so many different ways. Americans drink (though often pretend not to - see above) as a pastime in itself (the idea of a 'Bar' where drink is the focus rather than a range of community interactions and services - is American), Australians drink (the 'would you like a tinny' is a welcome in most homes) etc. The Japanese drink heavily in order to get drunk too. The world is culturally dominated by UK/American/Japanese businesses and the changes they have facilitated. Not to mention our drink-fuelled City and Parliament making the UK contribution to the world disproportionate (perhaps grandiose thinking is better done when tipsy??)

Perhaps, in fact, drink is good for us - the casualties being a small relative risk?

LaVitaBellissima Thu 16-Jun-11 08:21:15

Slightly off topic, but what are your views on drinking whilst pregnant & drinking whilst breastfeeding?

Tee2072 Thu 16-Jun-11 08:50:40

I never said we didn't drink, Missingfriendsandsad. I said we are not going to get legless in front of the CEO of our company at a company dinner.

Also, I know many many more pubs that are just there to serve drinks and have no 'community interaction.'

bruxeur Thu 16-Jun-11 09:08:42

LaVitaB - this chap's not a clinician, he's got a PhD in hypnosis from North East London Poly, he's got an extensive back catalogue in pseudoscience (which is tedious but excusable) and maliciously misinterpreting actual science in order to sell books (which is just appalling) and you want him to advise you on something that's actually important?

FunnysInTheGarden Thu 16-Jun-11 09:23:50

Interesting comment bruxeur. I did wonder given your previous comment re Ben Goldacre. Should be an interesting Q&A

bruxeur Thu 16-Jun-11 09:26:32

Dr S is sadly just a bit too canny to do a live Q&A - see last sentence of OP.

FunnysInTheGarden Thu 16-Jun-11 09:36:40

Yes, have noticed that before with people who do Q&A. Always suspect that they have something to hide.........

MySweetAnnie Thu 16-Jun-11 09:38:08

I would like to know your views or findings on excessive Alcohol Consumption and Eating Disorders.

TheCrackFox Thu 16-Jun-11 09:42:29

What Bruxeur said.

He isn't actually very credible.

bruxeur Fri 17-Jun-11 08:59:43

Oh look! Unstickied. Someone at HQ do a bit of background, hmm?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 17-Jun-11 23:33:01

Thanks for all your questions which we'll send over in the morning. To clarify, we (MNHQ) invited Dr Aric to mumsnet for a Q&A and not a live webchat. The decision over whether someone does a live chat or Q&A is dependent on a number of things; our schedule, the guest's availability and also which we think will work best. Bruxeur, we can see you're not a fan grin but will certainly pass on your question to Dr Aric. We'll let you know early next week when the transcribed Q&A will be up and running.

bruxeur Mon 20-Jun-11 15:02:08

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

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