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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!


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?

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?"

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?

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 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.

worldgonecrazy Wed 23-Oct-13 07:11:18

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.

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.

Iranu Wed 23-Oct-13 18:18:56

Yes, Worldgonecrazy, there is indeed something being missed here, and this Drinkaware “survey” is carefully trying to make sure we do miss it. The point that is being missed is this: although teens getting pissed in city centres are very visible, most of the harms of alcohol occur in adults drinking too much in their homes. About 60 seconds googling shows that, according to Alcohol Concern, the number of hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease for under 30’s in England has doubled since 2002. It has quadrupled in the north east. The Alcohol Industry, however, would prefer that we all focus on young people drinking, and that we look away from the problem in the general population. Which is precisely why Drinkaware are hooking up with Mumsnet to “find out Mumsnetters' opinions on talking to your children about alcohol and underage drinking”. Conversely, they are less interested, in, say “finding out Mumsnetters’ opinions about how alcohol is a significant risk factor for breast cancer (see the NHS website) –and is an even greater risk for breast cancer in teens– see:

BigGapMum Thu 24-Oct-13 21:40:11

It's never too early to start talking about alcohol with your children. But obviously the conversation has got to be age appropriate. My 5yo DS2 sees DH and I having a glass of wine with dinner occasionally. Do people really think it should not be mentioned. The on going message is that it is an occasional treat for grownups and that too much is a bad thing.

If DS2 wants to try alcohol at 14 or 15 I would not object to him having a small glass of diluted wine or beer. I did the same with DS1 and he turned out fine!

Incidentally when DS1 was 17 a nearby pub landlord had an unwritten policy where on quite evenings he would allow 17 year olds to have 1 pint of standard lager with a game of pool. Any further drinks would be non-alcoholic.
His reasoning was that he was introducing them to alcohol responsibly and with supervision. The following year they would be able to drink as much and whatever alcohol they wanted with hardly any restriction i.e. from nothing to excess, and no supervision.
He didn't take any nonsense from them and they (mostly) would have had a 40 minute walk to get there and the same home (rural area). I know that he was making profit from them but even so he had my total support but almost certainly would not be able to get away with it these days.

unadulterateddad Thu 24-Oct-13 21:57:13

Absolutely speak to your children from an early age about all sorts of "difficult" subjects, such as sex, death, alcohol. The earlier conversations are often very lighthearted, children don't see any question as a difficult subject, it only adults incapability to talk about subjects openly that causes embarrassment.
Personally I don't think alcohol should be given to under 16s - it's a poison and I don't see many parents offering their children other drugs under supervision.
Moreover instead of Talking about kids and alcohol why are drinkaware not focusing on the adults who spend their evenings at home drinking bottles of wine and giving themselves cirrhosis..

Kelloges0811 Thu 24-Oct-13 22:35:35

I have two very young children myself and I think children are never to young to 'know' about alcohol. I mean how indepth a knowledge they have about alcohol must be age appropriate. My two little ones are aware that 'wine and 'dirty beer' is only for adults, and too much can make you sick. They have witnessed myself and family members have a celebration drink say at birthdays, during special meals, Christmas time and have never been around 'drunkeness'. My two are even to young to want 'fizzy drinks' my eldest thinks she may taste ' fizzy drinks' when she is a teenager lol. Every child is different and may choose to experiment at an early age! I see having the knowledge and facts of safe drinking is the best from an early age. We have never hid alcohol away from them and being open an honest about it will hopefully allow them to ask any questions they may have as they grow older. From the type of questions our children may ask, would depend how indepth an answer we would give them and the understanding of your each child. I can not see myself or husband giving our children alcohol under the age of 16 even under our supervision as it is unthinkable with our children being so small. But I would rather that, if our children did ask to experiment, if they were going to try a drink under 16 that they would come to us in our home.

NotShortImFunSized Thu 24-Oct-13 23:06:10

Question 2 -

I completely agree that children shouldn't be given alcohol whilst they are exactly that, children. There is no need for them to have it. I don't think introducing them to it gradually from a young age would make the slightest bit of difference to how they would be with alcohol when they are at the age they can buy/drink it. I personally think it's the equivalent

I think the only way to teach our dc about the dangers of alcohol and underage drinking is to talk honestly and openly about it, the same with drug awareness and sex education!

NotShortImFunSized Thu 24-Oct-13 23:07:12

No idea what happened to my post then or what I was trying to say in the middle grin

Lightshines Fri 25-Oct-13 12:57:01

I do think it is important to talk about alcohol, but I do not see this as a tricky conversation. For most people (I rarely drink alcohol but have no objections to it, just doesn't float my boat) alcohol is an enjoyable and acceptable part of family, business and social life. Children need to know that - its a part of life, not the be all and end all.

I have two children under age 16 - they are 12 and 15. The eldest has in the last couple of weeks started drinking out of the home, which concerns me. We have always allowed a small amount of (usually diluted) wine, cider or beer during family occasions but not regularly. The youngest invariably takes a glass and hardly drinks any of it. I take the view that banning alcohol completely makes it more attractive.

Having said these things, I do worry about our approach, in case we are on the wrong tack and should have banned it totally until they were older.

magentastardust Fri 25-Oct-13 15:40:33

My children are still quite young-oldest 9. They are aware we will have a wine or a beer socially and they are also aware that you can't drink alcohol and drive as we have discussed that in front of them.

I think it is good to encourage that everything in moderation is sensible and I think I would probably be looking to start serious conversation about underage drinking with friends at around 14 (although hoping that it won't be put in practice)
I am obviously aware that teens will experiment but I can hope that we have passed a sensible message to be safe and aware and that they can talk to us at all times .
I would imagine from around 16 or 17 I would be happy to offer them a beer or small glass of wine on special occasions such as weddings or xmas so they could have a small taste and take some of the intrigue away.
I think something that will worry me will be the amount they drink -both my older children are very petite and I wouldn't imagine it would take a lot of alcohol to make them feel drunk -I would want them to be very aware of not trying to keep up with others and stay within what they felt were sensible limits.

I have a couple of young girls aged between 19 and 21 at my work and the stories they tell of the state their friends get in does now as a parent worry me. I am sure it didn't when I was that age though!

Iranu Fri 25-Oct-13 18:16:41

All very interesting. Particuarly interesting, though, that some of the many posts so far carefully rehearse Drinkaware messages, with remarkably similar wording. Makes me wonder about this "prize draw", and whether there is going to be an element of "naming the Blue Peter cat" about it.

Anyway to get back to the matter of health risks of alcohol in the young which Drinkaware want us to discuss. In my previous post above, I mentioned the risk of breast cancer. I see from the original OP blurb that this Drinakaware/Mumsnet distraction campaign will run for 4 weeks.
I’ve had a corking (sorry) idea – what about designating each week according to a particular harm of alcohol? Let’s start with Drinkaware_Cancer week. When the £200 voucher is awarded, then perhaps the recipient can agree to pass it to, say, a cancer charity, on the doorstep of the Drinkaware offices? I’m sure someone on Mumsnet with the right press contacts could rustle up some publicity...
Suggestions for other future "themed" "Drinkaware_HealthRisk" weeks welcome...

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:28:19

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?"

It is just as important to talk about alcohol, particularly as it loosens inhibitions and makes other scenarios more likely. I take the drip drip approach rather than wait for a right time. If something comes up, we discuss it at a level suitable for their understanding. As fans of Waterloo Road, we've had lots of opportunities to discuss these issues, including drinking, and continue to do so.
My DDs witnessed an older girl getting stupidly drunk at a "family" party (not our family I hasten to add). It was me that sorted her out, got her to the bathroom, caught her sick etc. while DH found her parents (and gave them a talking to). Not what I wanted my girls to see but we had a really frank discussion about it the following day and she is now a cautionary tale.

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 have always let them have a sip of my wine or beer (not as babies but they are under 16). I thought it was taking the European approach and have always tried to be open about alcohol, not making it a great taboo (as it becomes fascinating to them then). I've always thought it's better to try it at home where you are safe than away from home where people may not be looking out for you.

clubnail Fri 25-Oct-13 18:54:24

DS is only young, too early for such a discussion, so I'm not sure yet, but I expect we will just be open and honest and take each moment as it comes, and answer any questions truthfully. I would like to get away from the uk and travel a lot, show him how other countries use alcohol. The drink to get drunk culture here is embarrassing.

Orange01 Sat 26-Oct-13 14:42:21

It's imperative to talk to our children about drink from an early age, my step daughter is 9 and she loves a weak glass of red wine or sangria. She doesn't have it all the time but it's important that she doesn't get to an age where she starts binge drinking.

I work in police and see many young girls that have been victims of sexual assaults because through excessive drinking they can become separated from friends which makes them vulnerable.

Having a mobile phone and a serious chat about keeping them is sooooo important.

threepiecesuite Sat 26-Oct-13 17:28:12

1. I haven't got a set age in mind to talk about alcohol but intend to discuss it in an open and honest way when it arises. I often talk to my teenagers at school (teacher) about it, about moderation, the ill effects in can have, why so-and-so's sister shouldn't be going to the off license for them, why someone's mother shouldn't be buying them bootleg vodka to share in the park on a Sat night. I draw on my own experiences of getting too drunk and getting into a few mishaps.

2. I wholeheartedly wish we could emulate the French who seem to weave alcohol into daily life without making a big deal of it. The odd shandy or alcopop from about 14 can make teenagers feel grown-up and for some, they realise that they actually don't like the taste of alcohol at all.

FreeWoooooooo Sat 26-Oct-13 21:11:03

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'd talk to my DD before the temptation is likely to arise. If she mentions anything she's heard at school earlier than I realise it's an issue then I would immediately address it. I'm not one to shy away from a difficult conversation because if you don't have it at the right time it will only get worse; it won't go away. I think alcohol conversations should probably happen in Year 8.

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?

Yes I think 16 is the right age to drink a full sized glass/half pint and no earlier. However, in terms of sips etc I would probably let my DD from a younger age because the taste isn't very nice to them so it will put them off wanting to have more. I used to sip the froth on top of my dad's ale when I was primary school age but I've never drunk a full pint of ale so clearly it didn't attract me to drinking. I didn't get drunk till I was 17 and have not been totally wild with drinking and I think that's because I tried alcohol from an early age and it wasn't taboo. I think the Mediterranean attitude to drinking is one I would emulate as they have far less binge drinking.

sabretiggr Sat 26-Oct-13 23:29:10

Important to talk to kids about pretty much everything so that they can feel they can talk to you too.

Although for alchohol purchase and drinking a whole drink the age is fine, i think there is little harm in having the teeniest sip at a younger age. eg. my kids sometimes dip a finger into a glass of wine for a taste and I don't think that would harm them as it is such a tiny amount that actually reaches their mouths.

raddledoldtart Sun 27-Oct-13 06:35:23

As a checkout assistant, I tell my kids it's good manners to show your ID before being asked for it!

mumsbe Mon 28-Oct-13 08:12:34

Having my children aware of alcohol is very important to me. I have been discussing it with my daughter since she was about 3 she is now nearly 6 and is fully aware of what drinking too much can do it has helped explain this due to our neighbours having drunken partys every weekend so i have had to explain it really. At least my daughter now knows what she doesnt want to act like and even said im never drinking it makes you look silly.

mumsbe Mon 28-Oct-13 08:20:03

I dont agree with 16 been an ok age to drink at that age it should very much still be a splash of wine and a lot of lemonade the age limit should be 21 if children are shown by parents that there are other ways to have fun and a couple of drinks is fine but know your limits then i think there would be less under age drinking. I would probably let my child around the age of 14 have a splash of wine and a lot of lemonade while explaining limits at christmas and that would be it.

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