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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

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Nov-13 15:06:47

Thank you everyone for adding your thoughts to the thread. This thread has now closed and final winner has been selected. Congratulations to MoogDroog, we'll be in touch shortly!

missorinoco Thu 07-Nov-13 13:29:53

How much of an influence......?

It will colour their opinions and decisions. DH occasionally has a wine or beer with a meal, mainly we have a glass or two at the weekend. They have never seen us drunk, I don't think I have been drunk since my eldest was born, but I wouldn't want them to.

Would I mind them seeing me tipsy? Probably not if they were older, but with small children I don't think I could parent well drunk, and I don't think it would be a good influence to see me drinking to the point I was tipsy and silly.

allyfe Wed 06-Nov-13 20:14:10

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 children are still young, and I haven't really thought about when I will talk to them about alcohol.

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 find this advice a little confusing. When I was a child I used to be allowed to taste my Mum's cider, and my friends used to be allowed a small amount of wine. My friends in France were allowed a small amount of wine. I appreciate that wine is a drug and therefore it is not really ever good for you, so it makes sense that you shouldn't be allowed to drink it when you are young. But by making it 16, I think it will turn it into a right-of-passage experience. I wonder whether a small amount in a controlled environment with parents before that is a better way of teaching children about being responsible.

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?"

I am allergic to alcohol, and I have little empathy or understanding of why anyone would want to get drunk much beyond the age of 25. But here I differentiate between people who drink and people who are drunk. I would hate for my children to see their Dad drunk, or really to have to see anyone else drunk. But certainly, I think it normalises a level of alcohol consumption which is not healthy.

MadMonkeys Wed 06-Nov-13 19:29:07

I will talk to my kids about it when the topic naturally arises, or certainly by the time they are around 8 or 9. They see us drink occasionally, but we never get drunk so they would never see us in that state. If they seem interested in discussing it when they are much younger that is fine with me.

stephgr Mon 04-Nov-13 21:08:15

1. I think you need to talk about alcohol whenever children ask about it. It is important.

2 I think there is benefit in allowing children under 16 to drink under supervision. I first tried wine when I was 13 and didn't like it so had no interest in alcohol until there was peer pressure several years later.

3 I definitely think behaviour impacts upon children. I have never let my children see me when I've had too much although their dad hasn't been so careful. I really don't like it when they see him drunk. I believe children can think getting drunk is acceptable and are more likely to drink or drink too much if they see their parents drunk but I do have a couple of friends who are tee-total because they had heavy-drinking parents and that has put them off.

NettleTea Mon 04-Nov-13 16:41:55

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?"

Alcohol is just as important to talk about, and preferably before they start going out and getting paralytic!! My DD is 13 and she has the occassional drink when she is with me and others are drinking. Now is probably a good age to approach it, as I imagine that soon there will be parties where alcohol may be brought, even if its not intended or widespread.

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?"

Well, as Ive already stated that I have allowed her some I think that probably answers the question!! Though she only really has 'tastes' - wine watered down etc. My DS has had a sip of beer at 7 - he didnt like it. I wouldnt let him drink yet, he is still far too young.

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?"

Neither I nor my DP have been drunk in front of the children. Both sets of grandparents have. DD found it really embarrasing.

GetKnitted Sun 03-Nov-13 21:54:57

I think any parent's drinking habits have a massive influence on the kids, though if taken to the extreme it can have the opposite effect. Our dc will never see us drunk

Snuppeline Sat 02-Nov-13 09:17:31

Here are my answers

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?"

From eight onwards, their moral is formed and they are possible to influence without the aspect of peer pressure. I will begin talking about it from that age in relation to questions about members of the family who are heavy drinkers, for instance, so will use as a chance to educate and gently warn. Other than that I think being a good role model at very age is key.

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 thought it was 15? I have step children who have been given wine from eight, 'like the French'. I personally do not agree and think it is risky as the young brain is still forming and risk being made more susceptible to alcoholism. But then we have alcoholics in my family so it's something I worry about.

I will take the official guidance and where I was planning to let my dd's try alcohol in the safety of my home with my supervision from 15 I will now wait until they are 16.

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?"

Never to see us drunk but they know wine is a feature of adult socialising and enjoyment alongside food etc. I don't drink at the moment (breastfeeding) but will have a glass of wine when children are in bed when children are older (1 year old approx). When children are small I will ensure I never have more than what will allow me to be responsible in an emergency. I think it is good for children to see adults consume alcohol in moderation.

MoogDroog Sat 02-Nov-13 08:44:14

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?

It has a huge influence on children's future behaviour regarding alcohol, same as it would be for any other drug. Children learn what is okay from their parents and significant others. The sooner we stop setting alcohol apart from other drugs the better.

Would I like my children to see me drunk? No thanks. They can see me vaguely tipsy at appropriate events and occasions, but I'd be horrified if they saw me drunk.

Pollaidh Fri 01-Nov-13 23:01:01

How we discuss will change with age. Our 3 year old has asked about wine and we say it's for adults and too much of it isn't good for you. We drink very reasonably and she's never seen anyone drunk, maybe at most slightly tipsy on champagne. We would not get drunk while in charge of our children -weve had enough midnight hospital trips that we know at least one of us needs to be safe to drive.

Later we'll take the continental approach, which both our parents used - diluted wine with meals from about 15 and supplying 16+ parties with limited alcohol, while under our supervision. All us kids got drunk, sure, but we discovered our limits before we went away to uni. I've only been sick once at uni and tipsy at most in the last 13 years. A taste for the good stuff is important, them you can't afford to drink buckets of single malt or expensive wines so you drink less.

For girls especially an important message is their vulnerability when drunk, and making bad decisions.

Mitchdafish Fri 01-Nov-13 21:10:33

I am open with my children about alcohol, as others has said a bit-by-bit proess depending on the context and the age. Every child and family is different, so a conversation in a family with an alcoholic would be different from a teetotal family. Likewise there are children who are risk adverse and who can say no easily, and those who would drink alcohol to feel cool.
Similarly an age limit on drinking alcohol does not sit easily with me, although I'm happy with the UK law. Guidelines such as medics saying '16' are of little use to the individual parent deciding what is best for their child in their unique circumstances. Such guidelines create a rule to be broken, and then the parents are perhaps guilty if a sip of fizz is offered at a wedding and then suddenly the thrill of breaking the alcohol guideline is felt and established as a precedent, with the parents' approval.
There are plenty of people who feel that guidelines are there for people who don't tend to think for themselves, and as a parent one questions guidleines frequently. They often seem patronising. I'd prefer to see facts about alcohol offered clearly, with easy to understand factual data (see NICE guidelines on describing medical risk) so that parents can introduce children to alcohol in a way that feels most appropriate.
I avoid drinking when the children are up. Now they go to bed later we might have wine with a special meal. Am happy for them to try a sip if they want, they have never liked it.
I'm aware that friends children aged 14+ are supplied with alcohol at house parties by parents. It doesn't seem right to me, I think it would be more appropriate in the company of parents, however I might feel differently when my children are older.

bamblolo Fri 01-Nov-13 19:47:40

I think children are more aware of the affects of alcohol nowadays. They will often see on the news the strains that drinking/alcoholism is having on the NHS. One of my daughters did ask why were kids so young drunk on the news. This then led us into a conversation of the perils of underage drinking and binge drinking. I think all the press coverage has put my kids off but hopefully they will be able to make their own informed choice when they are old enough. I think 16 is probably old enough to be introduced to a glass of wine with a meal or maybe one beer with a meal.

Lynne73 Fri 01-Nov-13 18:42:18

I do not think we should be allowing children to try alcohol; I think that's wholly inappropriate. Once they are 16 or older, I would allow them to drink alcohol under our supervision at home so as not to make alcohol a forbidden fruit.

Lynne73 Fri 01-Nov-13 18:37:25

Our children are 6 and 8 and they see myself and my husband enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer at the weekend. They understand these are drinks for grown-ups and don't see it as a big deal.
I would never want my child/ren to see me even slightly drunk; I don't think that's appropriate behaviour for me as a parent.
We have discussed the effects of too much alcohol when they've asked questions but have hopefully answered in an age-appropriate manner. They understand that you're not allowed to drive your car when you've been drinking.
I think age 9 or 10 would be a good time to begin conversations about the health issues surrounding excessive alcohol but would be led by my child as and when they have a question about this subject.

DifferentNow Fri 01-Nov-13 17:04:50

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 think it's an essential conversation. My eldest DC has just started high school and I think that this is probably a good time now for me to bring it up.

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?"

God, no. No 'introducing' children to alcohol. Should we introduce them to cigarettes as well?! Teenagers have a hard enough time coping with their feelings etc without distorting them with booze.

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?"

My own children will grow up witnessing DH and I have the odd beer or glass of wine which is how I think it ought to be. I think it's irresponsible for parents to be drunk around children. Alcohol impairs judgement and good judgement is vital in parenting. My dad wasn't an alcoholic or anything and was/is a good dad but he drank too much when we were growing up and it made me feel vulnerable. I got really pissed at a party a while back, shortly after having a miscarriage and my children saw me throwing up. It made me feel ashamed.

ILoveMyCaravan Fri 01-Nov-13 16:26:38

I started talking to my children about alcohol when they started asking at about 10/11 years. They see me drinking one glass of wine with a meal at home, but that's all I have. They have never seen me drunk nor would I wish them too (I don't drink more than a glass anyway). Hopefully they can see that I drink within sensible limits and I have allowed them (once) to have the tiniest taste of my wine or beer and they thought it absolutely disgusting so I think I have put them off for a good while yet. I thought it better that they didn't crave it or get ideas that they would like it, so a tiny little taste now that puts them off, I think has worked, for now! More importantly when we go out for a meal, my DH doesn't drink at all and they understand that's because alcohol and driving don't mix. He rarely drinks anyway. I think how much you drink would definitely have an affect on DCs.

asuwere Fri 01-Nov-13 14:50:35

1. I never really thought about alcohol as a discussion point but having recently watched a programme about binge drinking culture, I've realised that I do need to add it to the list of things. I don't see it as a set discussion though, just something else to to bring in to regular discussions, as with sex, drugs, relationships etc. I guess it goes with healthy eating and moderation.

2. I don't see any reason to introduce alcohol any earlier than 16. It does depend on circumstances though - if going away to college or something and will be with older teenagers, then it might be worth letting them try at home rather than out with other people. It's tough though. Neither I not DH drink so there isn't any alcohol in the house so it would be bought specifically which would be odd.

3. as above, neither DH or I drink so DC never see it.

Jinty64 Fri 01-Nov-13 14:15:23

We haven't sat down and had "the talk" with our teenagers it has always been something that has come up in conversation as we have gone along.

They first asked for wine with Christmas dinner when they were about 14 and 12. They got a small glass each but didn't like it. I have friends who will make it half and half with lemonade to make it taste nice but I don't see the point of this. Ds1 (18) has an occasional cider or beer. Ds2 (16) still doesn't like it. Ds3 (7) has never tried it.

Dh and I both drink in front of the children but only a couple of glasses of wine and they have never seen us drunk. I think that is how it should be.

NotCitrus Fri 01-Nov-13 08:42:27

3. Definitely a big influence from parents. I rarely have.more.than one drink nowadays and I'm sure the fact that I never saw my parents drink much had an effect - school friends of mine were amazed that I'd never seen my parents drunk. Though I did my share of drunkenness as a teenager, but still I think to a lesser extent than many. But possibly just lucky with high alcohol tolerance.

Ds is only 5 but knows alcohol is like medicine as too much can make you very sick so it's only for adults to get out.

Bubbles85 Fri 01-Nov-13 08:19:32

I think parents influence their children a lot more than they realise. No, I don't think it's rights that children should see their parents drunk. Luckily I don't really like the feeling of being drunk myself but even if I did I would hate for my children to see me in that way and think it is acceptable. How could I ever get angry with them for doing the same as me? Also, with very young children its not fair to be drunk when looking after them.

AndHarry Thu 31-Oct-13 11:46:29

Q3. Parental use of alcohol definitely influences their children. In my own family, DH's grandad was an alcoholic, as were all of his uncles on that side (all now dead from alcohol-related disease) and his cousins are now the third generation of males with alcohol issues. It can't be coincidence.

DH and I don't drink but no, I don't think it's ok for children to see their parents drunk. At the extreme end, I'm sure that what a child sees as normal adult behaviour is reflected in their own values, attitudes and behaviours as they grow up and if they constantly see their parents drunk then they will think that's normal and ok too. At the other end of the scale, I can imagine a young child being confused and upset by seeing their parent in such a state and an older child losing a bit of respect for them. Drunk people are neither funny nor cool.

No i dont think it is ok for children to see their parents drunk, both of my children have seen me drink, sometimes a glass, sometimes more at a party, they have never seen me falling over drunk, maybe tipsy when they were older, but i am very aware that i have to be an adult and if i was with kids and drunk as a single parent what would happen if they needed medical help or there was a fire ect. that's not say i have not got accidentally drunk when the kids were not here, you know how it goes you go out for one drink and end up at 3am still drinking, and feel like death the next day.

My kids are now 20 and 17, both drink. I have never seen my 20 year old drunk and vomiting as i have seen some of his friends, he seems quite sensible to me, although he might not come home when he is drunk who knows

My 17 year old drinks when her friends do, but she doesn't really like it will have coke if offered a drink by me when out for a meal, not sure what she does when im not there, but she wont drink if she has to come home on the bus alone she knows the risks.

Im not sure if my drinknig has influenced them at all really, they know im happy for them to have a few , its just the drinking to oblivion i hate.

Rosa Wed 30-Oct-13 12:18:09

3) No need as neither of us feel the need to get 'drunk ' either in front of or without our children.
Our children know we like an odd glass of wine or something stronger and on a holiday to a well know wine area it was a joke as who was having a drink and who was driving.
IMO a responsible adult knows when you go from enjoying a drink to getting totally drunk and should know when to stop ( unless that is the intention ) which for me is irresponsible ..especially if your children need assistance in the night or whatever.

LegoCaltrops Wed 30-Oct-13 11:58:22

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?"

Our DD is still only a toddler so she wouldn't really notice much yet. But, I wouldn't ever let her see me drunk - TBH I rarely drink & never get drunk. My dad was a functioning alcoholic ever since I was tiny, he nearly died due to it a few years ago. It really affected my attitude towards alcohol & although I don't actively prevent my DH having a couple of beers, I get really upset if I feel he takes it to excess. I know it's my issue rather than my DH's behaviour that's the problem there BTW but I think it does demonstrate how growing up with alcohol abuse can affect you, even if you never actually see them drunk (I never did - my dad just always had a glass of something on the go). So I really don't think the issue is just about whether children see their parents 'drunk', it's the whole attitude around alcohol & regular consumption & normalisation of it, that's the issue IMHO.

I do remember regularly having about an inch of a sweet wine, cider, sherry etc on Sundays & on holiday, aged about 4 (maybe younger). In retrospect this was way too young, although my parents obviously didn't think so at the time. This would have been in the mid '80s so maybe it was more normal then.

I'd like to think that when our DD is old enough to understand, we'll be able to have a proper conversation with her about why alcohol can be enjoyable occasionally, but mostly we don't drink it because it's expensive & bad for you & makes you do stupid things.

LordPalmerston Wed 30-Oct-13 03:59:13

Not kind. Sorry. Typo. "None"

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