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Talk to Drinkaware about various issues surrounding underage drinking – x3 £200 voucher prize draw NOW CLOSED

(207 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Oct-13 11:12:12

Drinkaware would like to find out Mumsnetters' opinions on talking to your children about alcohol and underage drinking.

Here's what Drinkaware have to say, Drinkaware is pleased to be working in partnership with Mumsnet to raise awareness about the issues surrounding children and alcohol. By providing tips and expert advice to mums, we hope to encourage them to feel confident in talking to their children about alcohol in the pre-teen years, before the onset of peer pressure. For more detailed information on how to do this and to practice conversations using our interactive video, go to drinkaware.co.uk"

This thread will be open for one month, during which we will add new questions (with a total of three questions over the month) to the thread. All of the questions will centre around how to approach issues surrounding alcohol with your children.

Before we add a new question to the discussion there will be a prize draw for a £200 Amazon voucher for everyone who added has their comments and thoughts to the thread so far.

Questions:

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

3 "How much of an influence do you think your own drinking behaviour has on your child? Do you think it is OK for your child to see you or your partner drunk?"

Thanks and good luck!

MNHQ

slickrick Wed 23-Oct-13 10:47:43

Alcohol is a massive problem in the UK look around any city or town and you will see drunk people at the weekends.
The problem nowadays is the shot culture downing as many shots as possible is classed as fun, this is so dangerous as our livers cant cope with that much alcohol.
My DD is 16 every single child in her year has been drinking for at least 2 years on a regular basis.
Our country is a joke when it comes to alcohol have a look in A&E at the weekends to see the damage drinking does.

I think an important point is being missed. In my experience, most adults will drink for pleasure and relaxation. Teens seem to drink purely to get as pissed as possible as quickly as possible. I have seen otherwise sensible teens knocking back vodka just to get smashed. I believe we need to address the reasons why teens want to poison themselves to oblivion, rather than focus exclusively on teaching sensible drinking.

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 21:37:28

Yes, I'm effing livid! Hard to believe the cynicism behind this Drinkaware/Alcohol industry marketing exercise. Well, actually not that hard to believe, I suppose - the tobacco industry have been doing it for decades.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 22-Oct-13 21:02:06

Iranu good repost. It seems you and I are the only ones to have noticed that.

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 20:51:13

Yes, I just bet you'd like to get families to "introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision", wouldn't you, Portman? Any other suggestions? What about "introducing children gradually to smoking from a young age under your supervision"? You're never to young to be "Drinkaware", eh?

Iranu Tue 22-Oct-13 20:47:08

Can I just part of ButThereAgain's brilliant post, in case anyone missed it: "Strategically Drinkaware is a tool that complements alcohol marketing, so this thread feels not unlike threads that get us all to talk about Cif etc to give the product a boost."
MN is here partnering with an organisation which is widely accepted to be a cover for the alcohol industry, used to avoid or delay regulation. Would MN "partner" with Phillip Morris to "find out Mumsnetter's opinions about smoking?"

nomorebooze Tue 22-Oct-13 16:57:00

1- I think it should be discussed as soon as they start asking questions about it. My 3 and 1/2 year old has been curious as to what mummy and daddy were drinking on holiday! you don't want to make drinking a mysterious thing. I feel this could cause an added excitement of the forbidden.

2- I think it depends of individual circumstances! I think its not a bad thing to let them try alcohol earlier as long as you enforce sensible drinking culture into your home! I remember having a white wine spritzer at christmas at the age of 14! it did me no harm! I think would you rather they tried alcohol in your company where you can supervise it! or at the park on cheap plonk there friend has given them, where they end up drunk?

GaryBuseysTeeth Tue 22-Oct-13 16:16:38

I think the age of talking about alcohol depends on when the child begins to take notice of the different drinks.
I would, however, always do it before they started secondary school, thinking back to my childhood I started experimenting with alcohol when I was around 11...back then the children who weren't 'aware' of alcohol were the ones who ended up comatose after a few swigs of vodka.

We've got Mediterranean relatives who can't get their head around the British way of binge drinking, so hopefully with growing up visiting them often (and, in all likelihood, alcohol being a holiday treat) I would be happy with them having a small glass of something with food from about 11.

I think normalising alcohol & letting them made a choice about their consumption at home helps, but I'm aware most teens will, at some point, want to secretly drink wkd's with their mates & behave like prats. I just hope we would've instilled enough common sense in our DS's that they won't get in the car with a drunk driver or start a fight drunk.

KitCat26 Tue 22-Oct-13 13:24:14

1) My girls are little at the moment (under 5), but they see me and DH have a glass of wine/beer with a meal, or in the evening and always ask if they can try some. They know it is a grown up drink though and not for children.

I think answering questions age appropriately is the first place to start, but also setting a good example as they grow up is important. If they haven't asked by age six then perhaps a little chat then.

2) Actually I think 16 is a bit late for a first taste of alcohol (but the legal age of 18 is fine imo). I think that by that stage they will have been tempted to try it at other people's houses and personally I would prefer them to have a drink under our roof where I can keep an eye on them. I think 13 for half a weak shandy would be ok - very occasionally. Wine or beer with a meal (Sunday lunch or birthday etc) from 15.

A slow and gradual supervised introduction would be my approach, as was my parents.

BruthasTortoise Mon 21-Oct-13 23:10:37

I think 16 is plenty old enough to be introduced to alcohol. But then DH and I don't drink much and never in the house, maybe if we were people who enjoyed wine with a meal or something we would reconsider.

Elainey1609 Mon 21-Oct-13 15:51:10

It is important we discuss alcohol openly with children
we have done from an early age since they started asking questions to be honest. Which was around the age of 6/7. I think its never to early. if they had asked me a question at age 5 I would have attempted to answer it.. Its very similar to when discussing sex ..we do it as honestly and openly as possible but in an age appropriate way.
I am always surprised how understanding and accepting of information they are.

I think how you introduce alcohol to children is very individual to the parents and depends on the circumstances.
I did it as my parents taught me which is if I wanted a taste of my mums wine I was allowed a sip .
At special occasions such as Christmas I was allowed a little bucksfizz normally waterd down with a little lemonade.
I have done exactly the same thing and it seems to work so I agree with gradually from an acceptable age when they start being inquisitive and of course under supervision.

Bubbles85 Mon 21-Oct-13 11:34:31

I don't think children under 16 should be given alcohol. To be honest 16 seems too young to me. I think you need to talk to the, about alcohol but don't give them alcohol for parties like some parents do!

lolancurly Mon 21-Oct-13 08:00:01

My little girl started asking for 'wine' to drink with her meal. What she meant was that she wanted apple juice because it looks like white wine. I found this a little worrying, as clearly she equates meal times with having a glass of wine! My older children have all grown up with a healthy attitude to alcohol and have all done the over indulgence thing at the silly experimental teen age, but it is short lived and they very soon grow out of it.

manfalou Sun 20-Oct-13 21:28:52

I would also add to set by example... although in my case this really isn't the case.

We only have the odd drink in the house on the odd weekend, DS is told beer is just for Ladies and Misters. We very rarely go out and when we do still only have 2-3 drinks each so the children's have never seen us in a drunken mess.

As mentioned above my own mother died due to being an alcoholic. She drank all day everyday...mostly spirits such as brandy and port. Not once did I copy her or feel that this was the way to go about things. And my grandparents never drank excessivly in front of her. Seeing her do what she did was awful and wouldn't never make me want to drink. I think younger people need to be made aware of the dangers of drink.

manfalou Sun 20-Oct-13 21:19:58

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

I do think its important to have a discussion about alcohol but when the time is right...which is going to be different for each child as with any subject. For me its particularly important as my mum died due to being an alcoholic when I was pregnant with my first child. From a young age both me and my brother saw what alcohol was doing to our mum and neither of us have drank excessively. I think if you know or have seen the ultimate consequences of drinking it automatically puts you off drinking that excessively.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I think you should introduce them gradually... they do in other countries and other countries aren't as bigger binge drinkers as us brits. I think its like anything, if you don't let children have something until they get to the point where they can do so without parental consent then they go wild. Drinking responsibly is something you need to learn, as is having a balanced diet. If you only let your child have super healthy stuff then ... in my experience... they're more likely to go behind your back to buy a bar or 2 or binge eat when possible. I know this isn't the case for everyone but Ive seen it happen, they eat/drink because they can and theres nothing anyone can do about it.

lionheart Sun 20-Oct-13 19:09:58

Yes of course you should talk to them and even more important, should set a good example when it comes to your own drinking.

16 still seems quite young to me.

skyeskyeskye Sun 20-Oct-13 16:35:37

My DD is only 5, but I think that as she grows up I will introduce her to alcohol in a safe way. A glass of wine with lunch as an older teenager would be ok.

My friend has a 13yo and she gives him the occasional can if lager at a family party. He doesn't abuse that and is very sensible. Obviously not all teenagers are the same though.

trice Sun 20-Oct-13 09:01:53

My dcs will not be encouraged to drink as we generally don't. It is a pointless habit, and can cause so much misery, I think children should be taught how to be sociable and have fun without being tipsy.

petalsandstars Sun 20-Oct-13 05:10:10

I think that to purposefully give young children alcohol would be a mistake but see no harm in allowing a small amount of alcohol at home under supervision from around 14 years old. At this age children are likely to want to try it and understand the consequences better
16 seems a bit obvious an age to pick and probably a bit late as kids may look old enough to buy it themselves by then so there is no control.

petalsandstars Sun 20-Oct-13 05:10:00

I think that to purposefully give young children alcohol would be a mistake but see no harm in allowing a small amount of alcohol at home under supervision from around 14 years old. At this age children are likely to want to try it and understand the consequences better
16 seems a bit obvious an age to pick and probably a bit late as kids may look old enough to buy it themselves by then so there is no control.

DanglingChillis Sat 19-Oct-13 23:26:14

We already talk to the kids about alcohol (our eldest is 5) and how wine and beer are strong drinks just for grown ups. We model responsible drinking (a glass of wine with dinner at weekends only). I'm not planning on introducing alcohol to their diet any time soon and agree 16 is a reasonable time to start but not sure how to balance that against the peer pressure they will get at a younger age.

Dancealot Sat 19-Oct-13 22:04:22

Yes I think 16 is the right age, although I think it is important to discuss alcohol with them from a much younger age, as I am sure they will be exposed to it by their peers.

I will be talking to both my children about the pros and cons of alcohol. The thing that scares me most are memories of my teenage years, how quickly I could get drunk and how out of control it left me in some situations. I really hope I can make them more sensible around alcohol than I ever was.

Questions:

1. "Thinking about those (sometimes) tricky conversations with your children about topics such as sex and relationships, drugs, online safety: how important do you think it is to talk to them about alcohol, and at what age do you think is the best time?"

My family business is a pub and my girls have seen the best and worst of people and drink. My youngest is 8 and she knows that getting drunk is not a good thing. I think it is very important as drink is a subject that seems very commonplace coronation street and emmerdale have pubs that are a focal point. I think it should be talked about in a positive way as well as the downfalls and don't think 8 yrs old is too soon.

2 "Medical experts recommend children are not allowed any alcohol before 16. Do you think this is the right age? Or do you think that you should introduce children gradually to alcohol from a young age under your supervision?"

I honestly think that 18 yrs is soon enough. I think a celebratory drink at Christmas / birthdays etc is enough and don't encourage it but my kids have tasted wine champagne and lager as they are curious what all the fuss is about. I would (and have) let my eldest have a drink in the house at 16 yrs again special occasions and think that being aware and talking about it have helped her have a healthy relationship with alcohol she is 20 now and goes out with her friends but does not get totally drunk.

Whilst I feel that it is very important to be able to have open and honest discussions with our children about the serious topics like drinking, sex, relationships, etc, I also think that the parents' example is vitally important. If our children see us respecting each other and respecting ourselves, they will learn from this. If they see us enjoying a drink or two without going stupidly overboard, or getting stinking drunk, they will learn from that - so we should model a healthy attitude towards alcohol, as well as preaching it.

THERhubarb Sat 19-Oct-13 11:35:26

It's interesting to read people's opinions on this.

I know I am in a minority here but I think it is useful for kids to see adults drunk. Think about it, when you are sober drunk people are annoying, loud, obnoxious and a pain in the arse. They aren't funny or a laugh. So how much more will children see this? It's not until you see your friends pissed when you are not that you realise just how others see you when you too, are drunk. It's a bit of a shock.

Being drunk tends to be glamourised by funny ancedotes, by the media, etc so it's useful for children to see the realities of people being pissed. It will make them less likely to want to behave that way themselves.

As for parents being drunk. I don't advocate this at all but again, it's easy for children to think that you must need to drink a shitload to get pissed and this isn't the case. Even adults can sometimes drink more than they meant to and to get quite drunk without realising it. Children need to see just how easy it is to get out of control. Sometimes it can take just a few glasses of wine on an empty stomach.

That's why I also think that schools should teach children the dangers of alcohol and have people in to talk about it - real people who see it every day. Children should be shown adults after a night out, collapsed in the street, covered in vomit. That's not fun or glamorous or funny. It's reality and I think reality is a far greater lesson than a lecture from mum and dad.

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