Responsible underage drinking is a myth
‘Drink responsibly.’ It’s a tag line seen on billboards across America. The ad promotes an alcoholic drink. The message warns of the dangers of overconsumption. Parents today want to protect their kids from the dangers of alcohol. But, some may be doing more harm than good.
In the 50’s, social hosting at your home was very common. Give your kids and their friends a place to drink so they can ‘drink responsibly’ in a controlled environment. It seemed like a safe alternative to drinking and driving. Studies today show that social hosting may do the exact opposite. It may even be linked to a higher likelihood of alcohol consumption in your teen’s future. How do you teach your teen how to drink responsibly? Teach the dangers and risks of alcohol consumption and model safe behaviors when you choose to drink.
Drinking at young ages leads to higher likelihood of alcoholism
As parents, we want to believe that the more we expose our kids to different experiences, the more we can influence and guide good choices. Drinking alcohol is one experience we are best to postpone. Evidence has shown that exposure to alcohol at younger ages can lead to increased alcohol consumption in future ages. Are alcoholic beverages readily accessible in your home? Do you allow your teen and their friends to have a drink when at your home? Do you consume more than you should in an evening of drinking at home? All of these actions increase that exposure.
Drinking at younger ages tends to have a direct correlation to some alcoholic behaviors later in life. A study found in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs supports this notion. Teens tend to drink more as they get older and may also have a greater likelihood to binge drink.
Parents can and do influence attitudes about alcohol
Rules and behaviors are key to parenting all ages. This does not change as your kids gets older. Rules for teens still apply and now come with greater risk: driving laws, curfew, drinking, drug use, social behaviors, etc. Choices can lead to confidence but, unfortunately, can also lead to consequence. Keep open dialogue with your teen and know their whereabouts. Meet their friends and listen. Parents have the first and best opportunity to know their kids the best. Take advantage of that time. Model behaviors you want your children to exhibit. Make choices you want them to make. Demonstrate trust in your actions so they learn to trust in you and themselves. Nurturing parents teach the art of healthy relationships and the stages that differentiate children, teens, and adults.
Most importantly, teach your teen patience. Drinking responsibly is learned with age and maturity. Some things are really meant – and make sense – to wait for. Drinking alcohol is one of them.
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