As your children grow older, you will have a number of discussions that are uncomfortable but necessary. Talking to your kids about alcoholism and the dangers of drinking is a discussion that is best had sooner rather than later and there are a few tips you can use to make the conversation effective and comfortable for the both of you. If you are undergoing alcoholism treatments or alcohol addiction recoveries, then it is especially important.
First of all, it’s important to begin talking to your children about drinking and facts about alcoholism at an early age in a way that they can understand. For instance, you wouldn’t explain the dangers of driving while intoxicated or binge drinking to a nine-year-old the same way you would to a seventeen-year-old. Even during the elementary school years, your children are most likely learning about alcohol and drugs from their peers, as well as learning to stay away from them from their teachers. Before you schedule a time to sit down and talk seriously with your children about why they shouldn’t drink (especially while underage), try to mention that drinking–and drugs–are harmful in casual conversation. You may see a commercial on television that prompts a short discussion, or your child may be interested in sports, so team enrollment time may be an ideal time to remind your child to stay alcohol-free.
As your children get older, they will be influenced by their peers more and more. While your child may have never displayed signs of interest in alcohol, pressure from friends and “popular kids” in school may increase curiosity about drinking. High school is also the time when many young people start to become alcoholics and this dependence on alcohol could change their lives for the worst. Your children will also be in a number of social settings without you as they get older, which means that alcohol could be at parties and other gatherings your children go to, making the temptation to drink even stronger. It is important that your kids understand that not drinking is a decision they should make for themselves — not simply to make you happy. This way you can be confident that your children will not drink to impress other people and will surround themselves with friends who feel the same way. It should also be made clear to your children that many people — young and old — who are alcoholics will not admit it and will try to make others feel as though they do not have a problem. It is still a good idea to warn your kids about taking drinks from strangers (even at parties) and getting into a vehicle with anyone who has been drinking. If your children make the decision to stay alcohol-free based on the information you have given them, it is more likely that they will make the right decision when you’re not around.
Most importantly, let your children know that you are willing to talk with them — not at them — whenever they have questions about alcohol or drugs. If they are curious about drinking, they will talk to you about it first and ask for your advice before trying it on their own. Making sure your kids are comfortable talking to you will also help you know what’s on their minds, which can be increasingly difficult as your children get older. If your kids know that alcoholism is a serious problem that can take years to break free from, they will choose to live healthier and happier lives as a result.