Parents Attitudes to Alcohol
The impact of parents attitudes to those that choose not to drink
Drinking alcohol is a strong part of the Australian culture and it can be a difficult decision to be a non-drinker because of the implications it may have socially. Choosing not to drink alcohol is an individual decision, which should be supported, but this is rarely the case in Australian society. Often when adults choose not to drink they feel they need to make excuses or justify their decision to others.
At this age kids look at their parents to determine what adult behaviour is acceptable and what is not. Kids are easily influenced and quick to adopt their parents’ opinions, as parents are important role models, especially in shaping their pre-teens attitudes to alcohol. If parents or their friends criticise or frown upon a non-drinker, then kids will quickly adopt the attitude that being a popular and happy adult means that you must drink alcohol to be popular. The last thing they want to be is an adult that people judge for their lifestyle.
- Examine your own values: Make sure you do not rate a non-drinker as having a problem. So much of what our kids pick up from adults is not in what they say but in the emotions and attitudes around what they say and the way they say it. If you do have a problem with it, try asking yourself why and then address it quickly.
- Try non-alcoholic alternatives: Make sure your child knows that there are non-alcoholic alternatives and that alcohol does not have to be part of every social gathering. Remember, role modelling is extremely important – if you want your child to understand that not everyone has to drink alcohol all the time you need to lead by example.
- Talk to family/friends: Let them know how you feel about this issue. Sometimes people make jokes about non-drinking without even thinking about it. Sometimes all they need is to have their memories jogged about how inappropriate it is to do this around your kids and it shouldn’t happen again.
- Don’t be afraid to air your disapproval: If a friend does criticise a non-drinker after you have already raised your concerns, ensure that your kids hear you disapprove of the comment. You may openly challenge the critic or, if that could cause unnecessary offence, make it clear to the kids afterwards where you stand on the issue. That should open up useful discussion and help educate the kids attitude toward drinking and that it is OK to say no.