HELP FOR THE FAMILY
Talking to Children About Alcohol
“The first time we discussed alcohol with our daughter, she was six years old. To our surprise she knew a lot more about it than we expected.”—Alexander.
What you should know
Talking to children about alcohol is vital. Do not wait until your child is a teenager. “I wish we had spoken to our son about the proper use of alcohol from an early age,” says Khamit, in Russia. “I learned the importance of this the hard way. I discovered that my son was regularly drinking at age 13.”
Why should you be concerned?
Classmates, advertisements, and TV can influence your child’s view of alcohol.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underage drinking accounts for 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
Not surprisingly, health officials recommend that parents educate their children from an early age about the dangers of alcohol. How can you do that?
What you can do
Anticipate your child’s questions. Young children are curious, and older children are even more curious. Therefore, you would do well to prepare how you will answer. For example:
If your child is curious about how alcohol tastes, you could say that wine is a little like sour fruit juice and beer can be quite bitter.
If your child wants to taste alcohol, you can say that alcohol is too strong for the bodies of children. Mention the effects: Alcohol causes a person to feel relaxed, but too much can make a person dizzy, act foolishly, and say things he or she will regret.—Proverbs 23:29-35.
Educate yourself. The Bible says: “The shrewd person acts with knowledge.” (Proverbs 13:16) Be informed about the use of alcohol and the laws and legal limits in your country. You will then be well-prepared to help your child.
Take the initiative to discuss the topic. “The use of alcohol can be confusing to young ones,” says Mark, a father in Britain. “I asked my eight-year-old son if he thought it was right or wrong to drink alcohol. I kept the atmosphere relaxed and informal, and this helped him to express his views openly.”
You will leave a deeper impression if you address the subject of alcohol on several occasions. Depending on the age of your child, include discussions about alcohol along with other life lessons, such as road safety and sex education.
Set the example. Children are like sponges—they absorb their surroundings—and research indicates that parents influence their children the most. This means that if you drink alcohol as a primary way to calm down or relieve stress, your child will get the message that alcohol is the answer to life’s anxieties. So be a good role model. Make sure you use alcohol responsibly.