by Angie Seth @kateygoalie
Having the “Bottle Talk” with your teen.
“Hey Mom, do you mind if I grab a beer?”
Whaaattt? My five-year-old wants to “grab a beer”??? No wait, she’s not five, she’s nineteen and of legal drinking age – yet in my mind she is still five! Yes, this is the reality in our home – we have a daughter who can drink! Let me backtrack a bit to when she was thirteen and the whole idea of growing up and being able to do whatever she wanted to do because she would be an adult, was front and centre on her mind.
Surprisingly, she did have friends who were growing up a little too fast, and taking a swig from the bottle was not uncommon. Now, we all like to experiment; our innate sense of curiosity is very strong, especially at a young age. Young girls are very impressionable and can succumb to peer pressure – we have all been through it. So when it comes to alcohol, my first piece of advice with a teenage daughter or son is to talk to them and not hide anything. I did the same with my kid – are you ready for it? Let them try it.
When I was a kid, my parents had lots of parties. They had friends over for dinner all the time. With dinner came the wine, or beer, or whatever. Naturally as kids, my sister and I were curious; what was so great about this drink everyone was indulging in? Well, my Dad did a great job of quashing that curiosity. I still remember that day. He had a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and a glass of scotch he was preparing for some of his friends. I just stood there wide eyed watching him. “Hey”, he said, “want to try it?” I did want to and I did try it. He still remembers the face I made. “Yuck, disgusting! How can you drink this stuff?” I asked.
“Well some people like it – but now that you have tried it, you know what it tastes like, and you won’t be so curious next time. When you are older like me, you might want to try it again”, he said as he chuckled.
This is the same thing I did with my eldest child. My husband and I had her try a sip of wine and sip of beer, to quash that young curiosity. So when kids her age were sneaking a “swig “of something from a bottle, my kid had no interest in doing so. My Dad’s plan worked.
When my daughter turned 16, I decided to have a chat with her about drinking. But it was not one of those ‘sit down we need to have a heart-to-heart about her life’ chats, but rather a good conversation about going out with friends, partying, what role alcohol could play, and what it was like for me growing up and how I dealt with the “bottle curiosity”. The bottom line is, I said to her, you know what alcohol tastes like, so you don’t need to go nuts. Actually going nuts with drinking is simply crazy. I told her it doesn’t make sense and is just not worth it.
Here are my two simple rules when it comes to drinking:
• If you want to drink, you do not drive, even if it’s one drink, you do not drive.
• Drink to have a little fun, don’t drink to later puke in the toilet. Praying to the porcelain goddess is not something to brag about!
I also threw in a few good drunk driving stories for added effect. Those are as real as you can get when it comes to drinking irresponsibly. As a journalist, I have covered one too many drunk driving stories and she knows it.
So the outcome to these life lessons: I know my daughter is a responsible drinker. For example, when she is at a party and sees a friend who is drinking a bit too much, my kid is the one who steps in to make sure that friend gets home safely. I never hide anything from my daughter, and that is the key. All her life, we have talked a lot – I really mean a lot! Having those chats with your kids, at a young age, about things like alcohol and drinking are extremely important. My daughter drinks socially, but more importantly, she drinks responsibly, and I know it is because of the several conversations my husband and I have had with her.
But if you are having trouble getting through to your kids or think they are too young right now to have the “drink talk” – here are a few stats that might nudge you to do so sooner than later.
According to www.teenchallenge.ca:
• 83% of grade 12 Ontario students admit to binge drinking
• Among Ontario grade 11 students, 13 years was the average age for a first time drink, and 14 years was the average age for their first time getting drunk
• Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in Canada
• More than 2700 children are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
• Motor vehicle crashes, liver disease, suicides, esophageal cancer, and arrhythmias were the leading causes of alcohol related deaths. (MADD Canada)
My daughter is an adult now (boy do I feel old!) and I know she has a good head on her shoulders. She’s a great kid…I am very lucky. Regardless of her age though, she will always be my little five-year-old bunny rabbit who keeps me laughing every day!
The information in this article is the personal opinion of the author only. Always consult your physician for professional medical expertise.
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