Last night there was a twitter party on the subject of kids and alcohol. Even at three and a half this is a subject that we have talked about at home with Roo and she knows that sometimes mummy and daddy have a drink that she cannot have because it would make her sick.
I remember when I was young that from about the age of 15 I was allowed to have on a Sunday a very weak small glass of wine and lemonade. My parents explained to me what it was and that it was a treat. Throughout my teenage years I never abused alcohol, got excessively drunk or took my drinking to extreme. My parents rarely had to witness scenes of me drunkenly stumbling home or cleaning up after me. The dangers and effects of alcohol were explained to me and I took those warnings on board.
However, as it became apparent from the discussion last night on twitter with the #tag #kidsandalcohol things today are a lot different. On average, children have their first alcoholic drink at 13, and more than 5,000 kids are admitted to A&E every year with alcohol-related injuries. As a result experts advise that parents begin talking to kids about alcohol no later than the age of seven.
To support the discussion and to answer important questions from parents were parent bloggers Chris Mosler and Rosie Scribble, along with GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, and Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh, from Devon and Cornwall Police. For an hour there were lots of really interesting questions posted including ‘what are the signs your child might be drinking without your knowledge?’, ‘where can you get information about alcohol to explain it to your children’ and lots of parents offering their own take on how to deal with kids who might be drinking or thinking about drinking.
Sue Atkins, parenting expert also posted a five-point guide for parents on how to stop children abusing alcohol which you can download here: bit.ly/tNTHWY
I think the biggest thing that I took away from the hour discussion was that as parents it is up to us to be honest, upfront and open about alcohol it’s effects, the safe limits and the different types of alcohol available with our children. By discussing it in an adult manner and pointing out drinks that are lower ABV or non-alcoholic alternatives as well as raising awareness of incidents such as drink spiking we can educate our children with the best knowledge possible. Whether they choose to drink excessively or not is their choice but we can play a part in how much they start to drink and when.
I would hope that when Roo starts to try alcohol that she tries her first drink at home with me in the safety of her own home and where we can be there for her. I would hate for her to be pressured by friends and media to try it in a situation that wasn’t safe or she was comfortable in and be put in a dangerous situation that she couldn’t control.