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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"

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.


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!


Turnipvontrapp Mon 07-Oct-13 23:05:53

Probably from 8 onwards. We already talk to our boys about it. Think its important to practise what you preach though.

The older they get, the more detail you will need to discuss with them.

GiraffesAndButterflies Tue 08-Oct-13 06:17:43

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 they should have an awareness of alcohol from the get go, with good behaviours modelled for them. So a glass of whiskey gets left out for Santa, but only a little one, because too much is bad for him! In the same way as they are aware that too much junk food is bad for them. My parents taught me to pour drinks from about 6, with an emphasis on knowing that a drink should not be too strong, and that there was a difference between my drink (could have as much as I wanted) and theirs (they were moderating how much they had). I think it helped me a lot later on that I was already aware of some fundamental alcohol safety points.

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 08-Oct-13 07:03:15

It is important too talk about alcohol before they each the "party" age (about 12/13). Guidance on what/how much is safe to drink and a promise that if they ring home for help they will not get in trouble, even if they're somewhere they shouldn't be.

TeaAndCakeOrDeath Tue 08-Oct-13 08:31:29

I agree with most other posters - towards the top end of primary school for the start of a (repeated, more in-depth as they get older) conversation, perhaps after a wedding etc where there may have been alcohol to 'toast' - explain that a drink can be a nice 'treat' for adults but there are limits, how it can effect behavior and decision making and the effects on the body (hangovers etc)

For us, as half the family are tee-total (Salvation Army) then there is already an awareness around drinking and they'll know there are two 'types' of drinks (alcohol and soft) served when we all get together, the reasons some people dont drink (prior alcoholism and religious beliefs)

Steffanoid Tue 08-Oct-13 08:36:26

I don't remember my parents having a very frank and honest conversation with me or even a gentle one, I used to get very drunk from about 13 or 14.
I think educating your children is important and we will probably talk to our lo when we think he can understand it so again around 7 or 8 but ultimately I think sometimes it doesnt make a difference at all I think it can be the individuals peers that can have an effect, there was a large drinking culture within my friend group, and still ia. at that age I didn't know better but ive now grown out of it and havent drunk since I was 23.

MakeTeaNotWar Tue 08-Oct-13 09:25:20

My children are as yet too young though 3 year old does want to try our drinks and we tell her no, it's for grown ups only. When the time is right - maybe from about age 7/8, well start to explain the effects alcohol has, the importance of moderation to but I suspect it might be for. 11/12 that the real curiosity and wanting to try will start

Willemdefoeismine Tue 08-Oct-13 09:30:31

We haven't had a conversation as such but we are quite an open family. The children know we drink alcohol. We talk about related issues such as drink driving and binge-drinking in the context of things we see on the news/TV programmes.

DS (12) vows that he's never going to touch a drop! I have suggested to DP that we introduce a very, very small glass of Prosecco to Christmas Lunch for DS - we were definitely introduced to it very slowly but surely from around the same age.

I went to parties and was drinking the odd glass of cider from when I was 14 (and this was from a very middle-class background going to middle-class parties with high achieving cohort) but didn't go on to become a big teen drinker at all. I would go so far as to say that I was virtually tee-total until I hit my mid-twenties (I've made up for it since though grin)!

I would like to think that my DCs will follow by example and drink in moderation.

CMOTDibbler Tue 08-Oct-13 09:42:33

I think its very important to talk about alcohol in an appropriate way from a young age. Unfortunatly fil and bil drink too much, so we have talked about how they get a bit silly and wobbly

ShatnersBassoon Tue 08-Oct-13 09:54:14

I think it's the general chit-chat that helps children understand issues such as alcohol and drugs. Don't make anything a taboo subject, be factual and honest. I think alcohol is the easiest of the big issues to tackle because it is an everyday thing for many families.

Spirael Tue 08-Oct-13 09:58:34

It's never too early, you just need to tailor the conversation to be appropriate for the individual in question, whether they're 2 or 20 years old!

We've already had conversations with DD about many of the topics above, without bogging it down with too much detail. We aren't big drinkers, but she knows we drink alcohol occasionally.

DD is very curious and she asked to have a sip of my wine one time. I let her her the tiniest sip and, as I expected, the response was "Yuck!". So that solves that problem for the next few years. wink

I don't see the point in making alcohol a forbidden fruit. It's just going to make DC curious and want to try it, away from their parents knowledge as they're being 'naughty'.

Better to just give them access to an appropriate amount alcohol in a safe, controlled environment where they learn to enjoy and respect it in equal measure.

weaseleyes Tue 08-Oct-13 10:00:03

I think drinking permeates our culture, so it's important to talk about it from the word go. Of course, many people don't drink, but it's still a constant reference point in tv or humour.

NotCitrus Tue 08-Oct-13 10:25:48

Very, and like relationships and consent and sex, needs to be done from an early age - my eldest is 5 but knows some drinks are only for grown-ups because a little bit is nice but too much makes you silly and then sick.

Peer pressure will be more of an issue once they are 9 or so, I guess.

imperfectparent Tue 08-Oct-13 10:41:38

I have always taken any opportunity to comment on alcohol problems whenever a situation has arisen on TV, in films or when you might see drunk people on holiday for example. Also, growing up in a family it is normal to see adults drink at family gatherings. Children hopefully learn that there are harms associated with alcohol and boundaries need to be observed.
My family is now in the teenage phase and I do feel that the right attitude prevails. However, there is never any room for complacency and alcohol is part of the mix of other concerns I have about the dangers and temptations that go with these years. You just do your best.

WowOoo Tue 08-Oct-13 11:30:24

We've been talking about it every time it's cropped up in conversation.
I think we'll continue to talk and before he reaches the age where he might be tempted I'll have a light hearted but serious chat.

My eldest knows that alcohol is a drink for adults only and that it can give you a terrible headache and a bad tummy if you drink too much.

HomicidalPsychoJungleCat Tue 08-Oct-13 11:49:48

We have had alcoholics in both sides of our families and so are very eager to ensure our two (8 and 3) grow up realising it is something to be enjoyed amd respected rather than abused. For our dd in particular I think it is crucial to make sure she realises the dangers in being out of control and not necessarily with people she can trust.

We have always been open with them about our own (moderate) drinking. They have seen both of us tipsy on rare occasion, but mostly just enjoying one small glass of wine with dinner or in the evening by the fire. DH is continental and he and his sisters were allowed a small glass of watered down table wine or beer on Sunday lunchtimes and I think we will do the same once they get to about 11/12 so that the taste and effect of alcohol are not alien to them nor an absolute novelty.

We have always been open to discussing any big life topics ike sex/drugs/alcohol at an age appropriate level and we will continue to do so. I'm totally happy to admit my experiences, (obviously not intoo much detail in certain topics [Blush] ) both the bad and good in all of these with my kids...though I suspect as teens the will no longer want to hear my stories! grin

SpiritOfTheBuskersCat Tue 08-Oct-13 12:28:02

"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 don't really think there is ever a 'time' to sit them down and talk to them about anything, to me that notion is archaic. I'd like to think that we will tackle problems as they arise, and questions factually as and when they are asked. We have the odd drink at home so hopefully DD will see us drinking responsibly as long as she doesn't come home from her nanas on a rare evening we are pished I've been there and done it all anyway, and I never remember being 'talked' to about it, but I do remember never being allowed a taste, and never seeing my parents drink anything.

BadlyWrittenPoem Tue 08-Oct-13 13:14:37

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 is important to talk about it and unless both parents don't drink the topic should be able to come up naturally and gradually with information given at an age appropriate level in the same way that healthy eating and the dangers of too much of certain types of food comes up. Obviously the risks of too much alcohol are different to those of say excessive salt consumption but I think it should be presented in a similar manner i.e. a small amount is okay but there are risks if you have more than recommended. I would say that presenting alcohol consumption as a "normal" rather than illicit activity is wise as it hopefully reduces the likelyhood of children going out secretly drinking with their friends which is probably more likely to lead to harmful drinking habits. But this is all just theory as my eldest is only six!

Tyranasaurus Tue 08-Oct-13 13:24:27

I think casually and from an early age- long before they'd start thinking about drinking

elastamum Tue 08-Oct-13 13:27:18

I talk to my 2Dc about alcohol regularly and DS1 (14) is allowed the occasional cider at family dinners, although he doesnt ever drink more than 1 or 2.

The other day at a family party he removed a bottle of Jack Daniels from a group of 12 year olds, who had swiped it from a parents house. He came and gave it to me as he thought they shouldnt have it and was worried what might happen if they drank it as they were planning to.

I was very proud of him smile

Madamecastafiore Tue 08-Oct-13 13:33:46

I don't think a huge 'talk' is a good thing, it should be something that evolves with normal teaching of behaviour, morals, self respect and control.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 08-Oct-13 14:03:13

It should be part of the day-to-day family conversation, normal and open to all members of the family. If a topic comes up that is potentially inappropriate to younger members (eg what, exactly, are the dangers that being drunk makes you vulnerable to?) then that topic should be returned to when the younger membersarenot present. But not in a serious, lets sit down and discuss important ishoos way.

Madratlady Tue 08-Oct-13 14:21:27

I think it's vital to discuss alcohol with children and be as open and honest as is appropriate for the age. Certainly making alcohol 'bad', 'forbidden' etc will just create a mystique and leave them unprepared when they do try drinking for the first time.

I don't think there's a certain age when the topic should be brought up but any questions should be answered and it's likely to come up naturally in conversation if children see their parents have the occasional drink. I'd say it's more important to have conversations about the dangers of drinking with children from around secondary school age, it sounds young but many 13/14 yr olds can and do drink. I know I was from not long after I turned 15. Another very, very important thing that should be pointed out is that some drinks are very strong, i.e. a barcadi breezer is pretty weak but a glass of barcardi with a mixer is not so much. It's something I learnt the hard way.

I also think it's a good idea to let teenagers have the odd drink at home and let them try different types of alcohol if they want, because their own home is a safe place to do so. That's from my own experience as my parents only ever drink wine or beer and my mum in particular was quite anti spirits or alcopops so I never encountered those at home and certainly wasn't ever allowed a drink at home. I think that was partly why as a teenager (16+) I had no idea how to handle drink and quite often ended up drinking too much and either passing out or getting myself into potentially dangerous situations.

I hope that by being open with my children and allowing them the odd drink at home from their teens then they might learn a sensible attitude towards alcohol and be able to cope and act safely when they start going to parties or out drinking.

RichTeaAreCrap Tue 08-Oct-13 15:08:00

I think it is absolutely essential that we talk to dc's about alcohol.
The more they are aware the easier it becomes to handle when they are legally old enough to drink.
I spoke to my dc's from around the age of 8/9. They were aware that alcoholic drinks were for adults only, but were also aware as they became teenagers of the pitfalls of drinking too much and the harm/danger it can cause if they don't drink responsibly.
Having then been in a car accident with them that was caused by a driver who was over the limit taught them the dangers of this and also the consequence of ever being irresponsible with drinking.
Thankfully it seemed to pay off and both are very sensible in their approach to drinking.

Lalunya85 Tue 08-Oct-13 15:14:55

I'm not sure whether having "the conversation" is a good way forward. Kids will get in touch with alcohol whether we want them to or not.

More important than sitting your kids down is to live by example, and help them build a healthy relationship with alcohol which they can fall back on when they see their peers experimenting with it. Show your kids that it is possible and absolutely fine to enjoy a nice drink; but that it is equally possible to stop after one or two. Show them that investing care into making your drink actually taste good - an appropriate glass, a good-quality spirit and mixer - is worth it, and that quality is more important than quantity.

I would approach alcohol in the same way I would deal with food. Nothing is "verboten" - alcohol is not a bad thing - but everything is consumed in its appropriate context, with pleasure and in moderation.

MadMonkeys Tue 08-Oct-13 18:54:11

My dcs are too young yet for that sort of discussion and I'm not really sure at what age to bring it up. I guess it is like other subjects in that it very much depends on the child,their level of maturity and the likelihood of exposure to drink related problems. I imagine that once they reach senior school age at the latest they will need some awareness.

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