Authored By: Chris Bereshnyi, Family Therapist
When it comes to drugs and alcohol, it’s safe to say that most parents don’t want their kids ingesting, or even being around, these substances. We already know that the younger a person is when they try drugs and alcohol, the higher the risk for them to abuse and experience problems related to these substances.
However, in regards to alcohol the situation can become somewhat difficult to navigate as drinking is allowed for adults. Kids have long used the excuse “Well, you do it. Why can’t I?” Teens tend to imitate what their parents do, and we see even toddlers imitate what their parents say and do. And though the reasons are numerous for children and teens not to drink and do drugs, there is something to the “You do it, so I can too” attitude, as teens will try to find loopholes to gain permission to engage in, or escape consequences of, certain actions.
This is why it is essential for parents who drink to model responsible alcohol consumption. Of course, talking about it is a good start, which gives parents an opportunity to convey their expectations, and give reasons why they don’t want their children to drink. When parents themselves “walk the walk” and drink responsibly in front of their children, this will hold more meaning for the child.
Responsible drinking can take the obvious forms, such as not driving while intoxicated, but can also be displayed by setting limits on how much you drink. This conveys the message that you don’t have to get drunk to enjoy alcohol. This can be accomplished during dinner, as research shows that families who have dinner together have teens that are less likely to try marijuana, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol.