Managing Teenage Drinking
Is it ok to let your kids drink alcohol at home?
There is no strong evidence to suggest that providing alcohol to your child in the home teaches them to drink responsibly. Some parents believe that providing alcohol with a meal in a family setting is an appropriate way to manage teenage drinking because that is the way they were raised. What rules and boundaries you decide to set as a parent is your business, but whatever your decision, be sure it is based on up-to-date, evidence based on facts and information.
We now know that alcohol disrupts brain development. Underage drinking and young people who drink alcohol risk their brains from not fully developing, which means they might never reach their full potential as an adult. It’s that simple.
Research also indicates that the earlier a child is introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to develop problems with alcohol later in life. So the message is clear – delay the introduction of alcohol for as long as possible and the best place to promote that message starts at home.
Many parents believe that drinking alcohol is part of the Australian culture, to deny that it’s not, or to neglect to educate their kids on how to handle drinking is being negligent as a parent. However, previous generations were not ‘taught’ how to drink, but rather they usually learnt drinking behaviours by watching parents and role models. This idea that we should teach our teenagers to drink by providing them alcohol in social situations is a fairly new concept and not based on any evidence.
Parents may believe at times that they don’t have any influence over their teenager, or that their peers have more influence than them. They try to do what they can to teach their child to drink responsibly by providing alcohol in the home and by managing teenage drinking with a meal or supplying a limited amount of alcohol for a teenage party.
Parents are their kid’s number one role models and children look to their parents to shape their perceptions of right and wrong. Decisions made by you as parents are guaranteed to impact your children in one way or another. Research demonstrates that parents have the greatest impact on shaping their children’s attitudes toward alcohol and parents are their most trusted source for information and advice.
When parents are positively involved in their children’s lives and monitor what’s going on, dangerous experimentation with alcohol, such as teenage binge drinking, can be discouraged.
Research clearly shows that if a parent communicates to their child that they do not want them to drink and does not provide alcohol, sets rules and boundaries, as well as consequences if they are discovered drinking, their teenager is less likely to drink alcohol.
Delaying the introduction of alcohol for as long as possible is one of the most important thing parents could do.