April is Alcohol Awareness Month and also a time when the weather starts to get nicer and there are more social events occurring. High school graduations are right around the corner, and then kids will be heading off to college. It is also a good time to start talking to your kids about the dangers of drinking if you haven’t already.
Remember: this isn’t a “once and done” conversation – it is something that should continue over the years as they get older. Establishing open lines of communication and a relationship where they feel comfortable coming to you about peer pressure or talking about drinking can have a positive impact. The need to know what the expectations are, but also that it’s okay to admit if they made a mistake.
You may feel awkward bringing up the topic of drinking, but it can be easier than you think to incorporate it into normal conversation. Consider what is happening around you. Pay attention to:
- Music your child is listening to
- Books they’re reading
- TV shows or movies they’re watching
- What they see in the community
These can be great segues to find out what they know and think about alcohol and drinking. Discuss how alcohol impacts people or events and how things might be different if they hadn’t been drinking. Talk about their perception of alcohol and why they think people drink.
Presenting the Risks
Once you’ve started talking about drinking, it’s time to educate them about dangers of drinking. For example, the impact it can have on their health, growth, and development. It can majorly impair sound decision making. Also, if they play sports or are in a club, getting caught drinking could get them suspended or kicked out. They run the risk of losing scholarships or not being allowed to participate anymore.
Driving under the influence is a significant problem across the United States and there are likely instances in your own community. Drinking and driving can be potentially deadly and come with many legal consequences. Talk about safer options and not getting into the car with anyone who has been drinking.
Pay attention to your own behaviors and conversations as well. Whether you realize it or not, your kids are always watching. They see if you drink every night after work or use alcohol as a way to deal with problems. Be aware of the message you are sending and talk about healthier options for dealing with stress, peer pressure, or socializing with others. Alcohol doesn’t have to be involved.
You don’t want to scare your kids about drinking, but you do want to make sure they are properly educated. Awareness is essential. Start the conversation now and continue it for years to come. If you don’t know the answer to something, look it up together. Spend time as a family creating healthier routines, building coping skills, improving communication, and supporting one another. You can’t protect your child from all of the dangers of the world, but you can make sure they have the tools and resources necessary to make good decisions.
If you realize that your own drinking is problematic, make the decision to get help. Let your child see that you are making a change and recovery is possible. Set a good example. Crossroads has special programs geared toward women and mothers, as well as groups for men. Be a good role model not just with your words, but with your actions as well by seeking treatment.
[cta]Did you know that Crossroads has programs specifically for women and mothers struggling with addiction? Call today to learn more.[/cta]