If there’s one thing that’s true of America, it’s that our society has had a love-hate relationship with alcohol since the foundation of our country. Hundreds of thousands of children have grown up in abusive households in which alcohol was the common denominator for the abuse. Hundreds of thousands of spouses have had to tolerate their partner’s unhealthy use of alcohol to cope with the stresses of life. Take a look back at Prohibition and you’ll understand the tension.
At the same time, some of us have seen alcohol used in healthy ways. We grew up in a family where alcohol was present, but never abused; where alcohol was consumed, but not in a way that led to abusive behavior.
Some of us are conservative in our views while others of us are looser in how we approach the alcohol topic.
Eventually, if you’re a self-conscious, self-aware parent, you’ll ask yourself the question, “Should I drink alcohol around my kids?”
We’ve all thought about it. And, the more we think about it, the more complex the issue becomes. So, here is a helpful starting point for deciding whether or not to drink alcohol around your children.
Be Honest About It!
Experts would tell you that it’s okay to drink alcohol in front of your kids. The only caveat is that you have an open and honest relationship with your children that includes communicating about the fun and tough things in life. Why? You’ll need to have a conversation, in an age-appropriate way, about the dangers of alcohol and the reasons you’ve chosen to abstain or partake.
So, before you answer the alcohol question, you probably need to ask yourself, “Do I have a good enough foundation with my children? Do we talk about both the tough and fun things in life?” If your answer is no, you might want to begin working on that.
If you already have an open and honest relationship with your kids, think through the way your going to talk to them about alcohol. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do I wish my parents would have told me?
- What do I know about the dangers of alcohol?
- Why do I like to drink alcohol?
- Why aren’t kids allowed to drink alcohol?
- What does my faith say about the consumption of alcohol?
Knowing your own answers to these questions will help you have a healthy conversation with your kids.
Set a Good Example
If you decide that you’re okay drinking alcohol around your kids, and you feel good about the conversation you’ve had with them, it’s then important to set a good example.
Many people who can’t control themselves had bad examples when they were growing up. They never saw healthy people drink alcohol in a healthy way. And, as a result, that negative behavior was passed down.
So, how do you set a good example for your children when it comes to drinking alcohol? Here are four important tips:
- Be consistent. If you have already talked to your children about the dangers of over-using alcohol, you need to show your kids that you believe what you say. If they see you living inconsistently, they won’t take your words seriously.
- Don’t unwind with alcohol. A lot of us want to drink a beer when we get home from work, or when we get home after a stressful day. Unfortunately, that communicates something detrimental to our children – that we need alcohol to cope with stress and to unwind at the end of the day. Teach them there are healthier ways to manage stress.
Remember, everything you do will one day be mimicked by your kids.
- Drink in moderation and ask family members to do the same. This is probably unnecessary to say, but it’s essential. If your children see alcohol consumed in moderation, they will be more likely to model the same behavior when they get older.
- Don’t use scare tactics. If you hyperbolize the dangers of alcohol, you might actually entice your kids to drink more. So, be honest and reasonable about the potential hazards and even the joys that come with drinking.
Podcast Ep. 175 Is it OK to Drink Alcohol Around Your Kids?
Ultimately, if/how we drink alcohol around our kids is the same as any other parenting issue. It’s the same as smoking, watching tv, food choices, school choices, discipline, or friends. With all of these things, we should ask ourselves, “Am I modeling the kind of behavior I want my children to model when they are my age?”
Monkey see monkey do!
That means the key component is what our children are seeing at home. So, be consistent and, as much as you might want to overindulge every now and then, remember that your kids are watching.
How have you approached this subject in your home? Is it something you’ve thought about before? Do you feel like there are different ways to tackle the topic with our kids? We’d love to hear from you!