If someone asked you whether you were encouraging your child to drink alcohol, you’d probably think they’d lost their mind. But here’s the thing…many parents are unwittingly influencing their children to drink with their own daily habits.
A recent BMC Public Health study evaluated the drinking habits of families and found that parents play a vital role in whether or not their child drinks. If you are doing the following things, you may be inadvertently encouraging your child to drink.
Have A Positive Attitude Towards Drinking
The study found that children of parents who disapprove of drinking were less likely to drink. Those of us who have kids may find this one surprising, but according to the study, children are actually listening to their parents. There’s a school of thought that supports having a positive attitude towards drinking, but this study says otherwise. Possibly, the best course of action would be to take a moderate approach. You can let your children know that you do not approve of underage drinking and still let them know that you’re there to discuss anything.
Keeping Alcohol Around The House
Students who thought alcohol was easy to obtain were more likely to drink. That’s not especially surprising. If it’s there in their faces, they may try it out. If you do keep alcohol around the house, you’re like most parents. A Journal of Primary Prevention survey found that most parents don’t lock up their alcohol and barely monitor levels.
Giving A Generous Allowance
Students who had more spending money were more likely to drink. Naturally, those with the will and the means to drink did so. This doesn’t mean you need to stop giving an allowance, but you may want to start keeping track of where that money is going. If they have a savings account, check to see if most of it is being saved. If it’s not, ask your child where the money is going. Without a good answer, you may be left to assume it’s not going to a good place.
Researchers asked students whether they were aware of a link between drinking and cancer. Most students were not. If you want to keep your teen from drinking alcohol, educate them about the reasons why they shouldn’t. “Because I said so” stops working at a certain point in a child’s development. At this point, it’s best to give your child the facts and let him or her decide what’s best. As much as we want to stop them from making bad decisions, this is one they’ll be making without you. Arm them with knowledge and they may be more likely to make a wise choice.
The thought of underage drinking can be a scary thing, especially if alcoholism runs in your family. However, avoiding the topic is never the best answer.
Keep the lines of communication open by educating your child about the dangers of drinking. Let him or her know that there are health implications like cirrhosis, cancer, and diabetes. And there are even more social implications to heavy or regular drinking.
When you’re a teen, drinking seems like a fun thing. However, when it goes too far, drinking can be a very isolating act. If you find out that your teenager is drinking, it’s a good time to reinforce your values and education. They still must make their own choices, but the research shows that they’ll be more likely to abstain from alcohol if they know you disapprove. Doing our best is the only way we can parent. If you’ve done everything you can, you can only hope that your children will make the right choices.
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness.
In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.