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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!


dahville Mon 07-Oct-13 11:31:06

It is absolutely critical that we speak to our children about alcohol awareness; I don't want my kids growing up thinking that falling down drunk and being sick after drinking is normal or acceptable.

I think 8 is the right age for gentle conversations about alcohol, maybe after they've someone a bit tipsy. Definitely by age 10 I want to have had a good, serious conversation about it.

teenagetantrums Mon 07-Oct-13 11:34:09

I would say drink is one of those like sex that has to explained in an age appropriate way, and they are never to young, when ours were little they knew that wine and beer were grown up drinks and they were not allowed to have them as they would make them sick. Obviously when they went to high school we had a more in depth discussion with them, about the effects of drinking, what it can do to their bodies and how drinking can effect their judgement of how to be behave in certain situations. We revisited these conversations more regularly when they were 15/16 and started going to parties, especially in regard to drinks being spiked, after this happened to my cousin. My teenagers are allowed to drink, they will have one at celebrations with the family. I'm sure they drink more when with friends but I have yet to see either of them drunk.

supermariossister Mon 07-Oct-13 14:11:01

i think its likely by the age of nine a child would have seen alcohol in day to day life and be able to understand what it is and seeing it consumed in a responsible way would be important. at around nine to ten i would feel comfortable explaining

MoogDroog Mon 07-Oct-13 16:16:59

I think it is vitally important, as are conversations about other drugs. My DC are very little at the moment, but I'll talk about alcohol if the subject crops up e.g. What are you drinking daddy? I'll talk about it in an age appropriate way.

I think I'll start having the proper conversations around age 9 or 10. The attitude to alcohol in this country alarms me, and as someone who used to work in substance misuse education I understand more than most the potential dangers. I don't expect them not to experiment when their older, but I want to minimise the harm and risk.

InMySpareTime Mon 07-Oct-13 16:57:56

We've been very open with the DCs about alcohol since they were 6 or 7, answering their questions honestly, and modelling a responsible attitude towards drinking.
I don't think there's an "ideal age" to begin conversations about alcohol, it needs to be part of an ongoing conversation about personal safety, risk and responsibility.

As with sex, drugs and the internet, I am not waiting for a particular age to start any conversations with my DCs, they have a constant drip, drip, drip of information (in a child friendly manner!) all of the time

its crucial to talk to them about alcohol. DH and I drink and started talking to our boys when they were very young about it, age appropriate stuff , about 'mummy and daddies drink' as they got older we were open about it and added more detail about safe drinking and the effects on the body and mind. They went through a phase of thinking seeing someone drunk was funny so we tried hard to show that you can enjoy a drink without being totally drunk. Ds1 did the teenage thing about wanting to be grown up too early and drank in the local park shock got over it when he reached 18 and could go out he's 20 now and has his moments, more than I would like tbh but he is very aware of the risks. DS2 is 17 and has just discovered alcohol at house parties but is not a regular drinker, sure this will change when he hits 18 but again he is well informed and knows the risks and also what to do if someone does overdo it, safety wise. I would prefer that neither of them drank smile but do feel confident that the education we have given them will help keep them safe.

SmokedMackerel Mon 07-Oct-13 17:46:09

I don't drink, although dh does. I think he should be the one to talk to the DC when appropriate, since he is the one that does drink. I've never really thought what age that should be - depends on the child. I don't remember ever being given a talk as a child. I suppose it's something you need to play by ear. I was 14 when I first saw someone drunk, on a train, and I was shocked and scared. I've never seen a family member drunk. So perhaps the issues seem a bit removed from me, not something I would have really thought of discussing with a young child.

CheeryCherry Mon 07-Oct-13 17:52:55

I think it should be discussed as soon as it becomes topical - probably around the age of 5 would they know which drinks are for adults only. As they get older they can start being told the reasons why in an age appropriate manner. As soon as they go to high school it needs discussing more seriously. They see people falling over on programmes such as You've Been Framed, it looks hilarious. On soaps it seems normal to meet in the pub, drink yourself silly. The whole subject needs a huge discussion.

ButThereAgain Mon 07-Oct-13 17:54:31

I try to make conversations with my children about excessive drinking continuous with a wider conversation about commercial pressures affecting their lifestyle choices. They face constant pressure from the alcohol industry to drink too much just as they do from food manufacturers to eat junk food. I have emphasized to them that the Drinkaware initiative is not wholly independent from the alcohol industry. Drinkaware is a figleaf that the industry hopes will help with its continued to avoidance of meaningful regulation.

The BMA says "involvement of the Drinkaware Trust in providing public health communications is a significant area of concern. This form of industry social marketing is counterproductive because industry responsibility campaigns are less effective than ones from other sources, keep messages
in a commercial comfort zone, and distract attention away from more effective measures to regulate alcohol use ... The BMA believes that
health promotion, such as guidance and advice on responsible drinking, should only be provided by a genuinely independent public health body, and not through industry-sponsored social marketing, or by individual drinks companies."

Web initiatives like this thread do of course have a motivation to push the sensible drinking message, but more fundamentally their goal is to protect the alcohol industry from profit-harming regulation. 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.

TheFutureMrsB Mon 07-Oct-13 17:59:11

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 have already spoken with my eldest son about drinking, he is 12, as it's something I thought was important to bring up. He is in secondary school now and of course there is peer pressure from his friends to do all sorts of silly things so alcohol was something I felt that needed to be spoken about. Children around my area tend not to hang around on the streets anymore which is great as I think it is then that alcohol plays a part, I know when I was younger it certainly did, but now they prefer to go to youth groups where they play on the computers/football etc.

I have spoken to my son and probably first had the conversation about alcohol when he started high school, so about 11, but he say's he doesn't like the taste anyway!

Secondary school age is about the right time I don't think children any younger would have thought about alcohol and going drinking with their friends then anyway, well I would hope not!

JazzAnnNonMouse Mon 07-Oct-13 18:56:21

Very important however my experience is those that had parents who were very strict and had zero tolerance rules were often the kids that ended up paraletic once off the leash!

JazzAnnNonMouse Mon 07-Oct-13 18:56:51

And I would say age wise about yr8/9

SalBeautyMoll Mon 07-Oct-13 19:09:41

Didn't really need to talk to dd until secondary school. I think she is fairly switched on about how uncool it is to come into school hungover, or sometimes actually still drunk.

AndHarry Mon 07-Oct-13 19:16:43

I think it's important to talk about alcohol consumption and not make it a taboo or 'everyday' topic. DH and I don't drink alcohol so our DC aren't exposed to it much. My DS is 3 and we've already talked about it as it's come up and he's had questions e.g. last week a drunk man was shouting at us and DS wanted to know why he couldn't talk to him so I explained that the man had had a drink that wasn't very good for him and made him do silly things. We'll continue to discuss it in an age-appropriate way, as we do with the other topics mentioned.

DigOfTheStump Mon 07-Oct-13 19:23:39

It's never too early todtart. If alcohol is part of your family's life, even in safe, moderated amounts, then tell your kids why that is appropriate, and why excess is bad.

Make conversation an every day part of life, that way the tricky conversations will be easier, if you already have a natural dialogue.

My kids accuse me of turnng everything into a life lesson. I reckon that means they listen!

whattodoo Mon 07-Oct-13 19:28:56

My DD is 5. She has seen us drinking a glass or two on special occasions. I think its important that she sees alcohol as something acceptable and enjoyable, but a 'grown up' drink. We've never had a conversation about it as such, I imagine 7/8 would be the right age to start talking about limits, dangers etc.

Theincidental Mon 07-Oct-13 20:02:38

It is crucial to discuss alcohol in the home.

I'm not sure on an age that it should be discussed, I suppose it depends on the maturity of the child, but before secondary school certainly.

I was terrible with teenage drinking and I wish I'd felt comfortable discussing it with my parents or that they had broached it.

missorinoco Mon 07-Oct-13 20:31:22

I think I will have the conversations between 8-10 unless the children ask questions earlier. My oldest has an idea that alcohol is a grown up drink, it is in the house, although we mainly drink when they are in bed, as the idea of running around after small children having had a drink does not appeal. It is however, visible, and open to questions.

themummyonthebus Mon 07-Oct-13 20:33:57

I think education about safe drinking is an on-going conversation with your children and it's never too early to start. My parents have always drunk responsibly and usually in an environment where their friends were also drinking in a pleasant social atmosphere. There was no drinking to excess, just drinking as a social lubricant.

I was also allowed to enter this world via very weak shandies from about the age of 14, which I am convinced made me a lot less impressed at those teenage parties with cheap, poor quality alcohol where the goal was simply to get smashed.

14 is probably too late these days, but i intend to follow a similar path as my parents in the hope, and expectation, that my children will be as sensible as I was when the offers of cheap cider/vodka start.

camtt Mon 07-Oct-13 21:16:27

We've been talking to our children about alcohol since they were old enough to ask what we were drinking on a Saturday evening. It's a subject that comes up from time to time and we try to discuss it with them in a factual way, also helping them to understand the broader issues around drinking, health issues, financial issues, getting yourself into dangerous situation issues. They are quite receptive although I doubt that they will stick with their stated intentions never to drink at all.

Roundles Mon 07-Oct-13 21:38:02

My parents never really spoke to me about alcohol, didnt go/take their children to pubs and I was never aware of alcohol being in the house. Aged 17 and at a new school, new friends and a very steep learning curve!! Really wish my parents had at least made me aware of booze and its effects, would certainly want prepare my children properly.

Sip of wine at Christmas dinner, foam from Dads beer etc, and a bit of a discussion, introduction and will certainly be telling them about my personal experiences, good and bad!

rowrowrowtheboat Mon 07-Oct-13 21:50:54

I think it is very important to discuss it, and be open with why people drink, and the disadvantages. As I have two daughters, I am more concerned with the impact of alcohol on the decisions young people make and the actions they take, than the physical effects of alcohol (which are easier for a youngster to understand).

My eldest already understands alcohol means you can't drive as she sees my husband leave the car at home instead of driving to work, on the rare occasion there is something on after work. I think as sups he grows up, she will understand the biological effects of alcohol on the body. How do I talk to her about how drinking alcohol may lead her to do or say things she wouldn't do sober?

I think we will slowly build the information and we will always answer her questions appropriately. I'd hope by 8years, they would have a reasonable understanding, and if not, instead of questions being led by my daughters, I would introduce the topic.

Ikeameatballs Mon 07-Oct-13 21:56:26

I think it's like those other big topics in that it's important to be open and honest and answer questions in age appropriate ways. My children know that I drink alcohol but very rarely see me do it. They know that when I have some friends round we might drink wine and that if I good with friends I might drink wine.

What I have been impressed by is how well they have got the message that you don't drink and drive, to the extend that ds 4 asked me if I was allowed to drive the car as I had been to the pub the evening before. This was at lunchtime and I had had one glass of wine the night before!

I remember drinking small amounts of alcohol with friends when I was underage. I think what made the overall risk of harm relatively low was factors outside of the alcohol; we all had similar parental boundaries, we were all good achievers at school, none of us had access to other substances. In different circumstances the same amount of alcohol could have led to problems.

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