developing healthy attitudes to alcohol(8 Posts)
So my children are still very young but my head has been starting to think about how to teach them about alcohol, and drugs and diet abuse etc. like dont get me wrong i know all kids will experiment and try stuff and do stuff behind mum and dads back. But how do i promote a healthy lifestyle?! I very rarely drink, my family dont drink very often. But My oh (childrens dad) does drink regularly and drinking is a big thing in his family. The family are often drinking together sociably or at eachothers houses.
I dont want our children to start drinking young. I dont want them to think its cool. Or that they have to to fit in.. I want them to realise what they are putting in their bodies and respect and look after their bodies and if they choose to drink when they are old enough fair enough..how do u stop them making the wrong decisions when they are teens!?!
Any advice from ppl who have been through these teenage years, particularly with boys, when pints and pubs seem to be part of male culture
Thanks in advance
Well, I don't think pints and pubs seem to be part of male culture is something that my dc have grown up with - dh would rather be up a mountain with a tent than in a pub with a pint, and, funnily enough, so would ds (who is 19).
Both dh and I do drink alcohol, just not especially often. It's never been a big 'thing' in the house, but they've been able to taste ours from when they were quite little
knowing that most alcohols taste horrible to small tastebuds
I think the key thing though, is this I don't want them to think ........ that they have to to fit in. You can teach them that from when they are very young, and then it becomes part of their inner confidence, and automatic default position to think about what they want to do, rather than following the crowd. You can encourage them to wear what clothes they want to, to listen to whatever music they want to, to do what hobbies they want to, etc.,etc., and to continually let them have choices and then back up the fact they've decided for themselves and not just done it because their mate has.
Don't wait until they are teens - build their self esteem / self confidence and their decision making skills from when they are tiny.
I don't have kids so please don't flame me for this post - just remembering my parents response to teaching me and my sis about alcohol.
My Dad worked in the industry when I was a child and I did when I was old enough for several years so there was always booze around the house and both my parents drink when they feel like it. Alcohol was never made a big thing in our house, I remember asking if I could taste my parents drinks when I was quite young (like primary school age) and they let me. As PP said it tastes disgusting to little ones taste buds and it put me right off asking again till I was a bit older. I remember asking if I could have a glass of wine or beer with dinner when I was about 15/16 and my parents let me. I was only ever allowed one and only if I asked and NEVER on a school night.
I only realised how great this approach of not making it a big thing was when I went to university. A few of my friends parents had been very VERY strict on alcohol and a couple had never even had a sip. They tended to be the ones who were hammered every single night, missed classes, ended up either arrested or in hospital (one incident where one of them was so drunk that they fell two floors out of a window and ended up in a wheelchair for 6 months). I think this mostly became a sweetshop effect and because not drinking was such a big deal when they were living at home, the second the rules weren't enforced they went a bit mad with it all.
It's a difficult one to get right and everyone does it differently for many different reasons but I think I'd rather not make it a massive deal, let them taste it and have small amounts at the appropriate age at home (absolutely not in a bar…that's illegal) and teach them about the effects that drinking too much can have (how your behaviour can change when you've had a few drinks, the horrific hangovers people tend to get, alcohol dependancy and the social aspects of drinking etc). Also a big emphasis that it's completely ok not to drink too because I do think some people now think that you're a bit weird if you don't want a drink or there's something wrong which I think is totally ridiculous.
Sorry for the long post…
I think a lot depends on the personality of the individual. I have three children - two older teens and one twenty-something. One of them has never been remotely interested in alcohol, one drinks occasionally, and one is very much into the party scene and drinks accordingly (though has never actually been ill or out of control with it, unlike many of her friends). This mirrors their personalities and interests, and although I can pass on to them messages about staying safe and healthy, whether they want to go out to parties or stay in and watch films on a Friday night is not something I can control.
My advice would be to just go with the flow. Tackle questions and give information bit by bit in an age appropriate way. If they're still very young now there's probably no need to mention it specifically. As they get older you can start to make them aware that certain things (vodka/ deep fried mars bars/ Big Macs) should only be consumed occasionally and in moderation and some things (drugs) not at all. I think it's important to remember that alcohol can be dangerous, but it can also be used safely as part of a perfectly healthy and happy life.
Just remember that however brilliant a job you do at teaching kids to think for themselves, not follow the crowd, etc, most of them do want to conform between the ages of 13-16 or thereabouts. It is also important not to make them feel too bad about this, or they will hide it and be unable to confide in you.
I would try to give them a large dose of "think for yourself" along with a small dose of "most teens do try to fit in with their friends and it is a phase you might go through". Remember that fitting in in unimportant ways like wearing stupid makeup, drinking a few beers, etc, is not really a big deal. Try to be realistic and honest about the things which are just a bit silly and ugly, and the things which are life-threatening, like drugs, unsafe sex, drunk driving, abusive behaviour, etc.
I'd go with Rwilkinson - it's what my parents did with my and my Dsis. Oh, and talk about it. When binge drinking is in the news, respond if they ask questions. Give answers if they ask what you are drinking and why. Don't demonise alcohol, but don't trivialise it either.
FWIW my DH grew up in a very anti-alcohol household and he has major issues with it, whereas I can totally take it or leave it. ATM my DDs are 13 and 15 and they are very anti-alcohol because they see what it does in our household.
Good post Rwilkinson.
By the way, lots of posters on MN don't have children. Your opinion is valid, regardless of that. (God I really hope that doesn't sound patronising!)
Thanks for all your replies. To be honest i think of it it comes down to personality. And what your children enjoy. My household didnt drink much when i grew up. Most of my family drink casually but not very regularly and not large qantaties. My sister however loves a good drink. And drinks way more much more often. We all had the same
Upbringing. She just likes the pub scene and values enjoyment in this way over healthly lifestyle.
I will follow all your advice.. And just hope my children are confident to do just as they wish and nothing they arent comfortable with. And also hope they find drinking nasty and awful forever haha! We can all wish cant we!
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