Today is National Drink Wine Day.
Hoorah! I hear many of you say. But for some, booze is a problem…
For those who rely on it too much
For those who don’t yet understand its power; (and that group includes many teenagers.)
Whilst the children may not view alcohol as a problem, the parents know, all too well, the downfalls of “the Demon Drink”.
So what can parents do?
Many of us want to guide our children – whilst still gifting them their independence.
Many of us want to educate our kids – whilst not being the harbinger of doom.
How can parents deal with the alcohol issue… without sounding like a nag?
I think what’s most important is that we remember we were in the same boat, not so long ago. And whilst many of us can recount alcohol fuelled stories to try and scare our children into abstinence, let’s face it, the majority of our kids will not listen anyway!
Personally, I feel it is wise to tackle the problem from a different angle.
So here is the ‘sciencey bit’.
The adolescent brain is wired towards risk-taking.
The adolescent brain is programmed to take a few more chances than many adults are comfortable with.
And YES, testing out the limits with alcohol is just one of those risks teenagers are prepared to take; particularly in social settings.
So if parents are able to step back a bit and understand the huge importance that your child places on approval from their friends – then they are a step closer towards being able to support from a place of understanding and compassion.
At this stage in their life, your child needs to fit in; and being accepted by their tribe is of paramount importance. It’s part of their basic teenage survival mechanism if you like.
So if they need to ‘break a few rules’ in order to be part of the gang – if that’s what it takes to ‘fit in’ – then that’s a risk worth taking. Even if they know it might get them in deep water with their parents later on.
Studies show that when they are on their own, the teenage brain is no different to the adult brain with regards to risk-taking. But place them within their friendship group and it is a totally different ballgame!
By all means have a chat about alcohol and it’s dangers ( because let’s face it, it is crucial that our kids are educated about the risks and dangers of irresponsible drinking. )
BUT – understand that your child is under immense pressure to be ‘normal’ and to fit in ( they are wired that way ) – so perhaps some leniency and understanding might be required if they make the odd duff decision.
I often told my kids
“So long as you have a drink in your hand
no one is really going to ask whether or not you are drinking it!”
(Pretending to swig out of a can or a beer bottle is a great antidote to appearing square or uncool.)
I hasten to add – I do not condone irresponsible drinking – I have enough alcoholics in my family to last me a lifetime – and it is for that reason that I no longer drink myself.
But I am realistic enough to realise that ( within reason ) our teenagers have to learn by their OWN mistakes also. As parents – it is our responsibility to provide safe boundaries and guidelines from which our children can work within.
Much Love 💕