Sunday, 23 November 2014

Children and Alcohol

Drinkaware have launched a new website to increase parents' awareness of the implications of underage drinking.  The website has been developed with support from the charity Family Lives and Consultant Paediatrician Dr Tim Uhbi and is a great resource for any family who have concerns around alcohol use by their children.
As a parent of four children with a large age range, alcohol has been discussed in our house for a lot of years. When the boys were little I worked in the Probation Service within the Drug and Alcohol Team and learnt through experience the dangers of alcohol use, therefore the boys had the effects of alcohol drummed into them from an early age, we talked about the impact of drink driving on families and how alcohol can affect their mood and feelings which can lead to them becoming involved in risky behaviours. One thing that I do think is important is to always remain calm when talking to your children and be there for them if they do happen to have a drink, it can be quite scary if they haven’t experienced the side effects before.  My middle son had a bad experience with whisky at the age of 14, he had been out with friends and they had drank it for a laugh, peer pressure played a huge part in this and he said he didn't want to be the only one not trying it, the state he was in scared me and from that day he never drank to excess again.

Personally I can take alcohol or leave it and I do think that not having it readily available in the house helps in the long term. I have never stopped my children from trying alcohol but have made sure that they know how to keep safe if they do drink. I think the age range of 10 – 13 years is a good time to start discussing alcohol use with children, Grotbags hates drink at the moment as she will not drink anything other than milk and water but as I am well aware this can change when children hit their teenage years. On our recent holiday Grotbags wanted to try my cocktail, I didn’t stop her because I feel that by doing this it encourages children to want something even more, nevertheless she tried it and hated it which I was so glad about.
I do worry more about Grotbags than I did the boys, mainly because of the danger of girls’ drinks being spiked and the risk of sexual exploitation whilst under the influence of alcohol.  Her self esteem is quite low and I often wonder if this will lead to drinking when she's older to give her the confidence to be herself.  I am working on her self esteem and hopefully she will go through the teenage years without having to use alcohol as a crutch. I love the new website from Drinkaware, it has so much information and is a great resource tool which could help lots of families.  For now Grotbags is quite happy with water as long as she has a straw to drink it through, let's hope it stays this way.

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