Promoting and supporting a child or children morally, physically, socially, and instinctually from infancy to adulthood is the primary objective and duty of every parent. Parenting actually refers to the aspect of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.

It’s true that most caregivers to children are always their biological parents but, in some instances, a child’s upbringing is taken care of  by the grandparents, siblings or even adopted parents.

At times, people judge parents, giving some the title of a good parent and another a bad parent but there is no fixed description of a good parent. In different cultures and societies, children are brought up in different ways. The way an African child is brought up is not the same as a child with a western culture. As Donald Winnicott says, “The good-enough mother…starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant’s needs and as time proceeds, she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant’s growing ability to deal with her failure.”

Being an ideal parent is not a day’s job. While bringing a child up, parents are faced with so many challenges like peer pressure, sex, drugs, and alcohol and might not know the right time, the right ways and reasons why talk to your child about all these.

We have decided to look at why, when and how parents could talk about alcohol to kids.

Many parents may likely not see the need to talk alcohol with kids but the truth remains that children always want to try new things they have been warned not to – especially the adolescents or teenagers. Teens nowadays start tasting and even taking drugs and alcohol at a very tender age. Research has shown that 80% of high school kids have tried alcohol.

Alcohol in itself is just a beverage that has the tendency of being abused by consumers. In every country, there are laws guiding the production, sale, and consumption of every alcoholic beverage. Alcohol abuse might not just be unhealthy for teens, but is crime and punishable by the law. It is necessary for every parent to educate their children on the effects of alcohol use and abuse. The main worry is not actually your child consuming alcohol but making sure that he does not abuse.

Understanding when to talk alcohol to your child might be a little tricky as their attitude towards alcohol changes as they grow.

Why Have the Talk?

Lessen the effect of peer pressure. As every child grows older, he or she becomes more influenced by friends. A child that has background knowledge on alcohol and the ills of its abuse will not be influenced by peer pressure, unlike the one who was never been taught or advised on alcohol consumption. Make your child know from a tender age that even though many people consume alcohol it does not mean it’s a good habit.

A teenage life void of alcohol is the best. When a child is made to understand the ills of alcohol and tend to grow up without drinking, he or she has the tendency of not becoming a heavy drinker at a mature age or might end up not drinking alcohol at all, while the reverse is true as the tendency for a child who starts drinking at a younger age is to continue with the attitude, and might become an addict is higher.

Health reasons

Early consumption or abuse of alcohol can be very dangerous to the health. Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage or kidney problems. So, the earlier an individual is aware of these abnormalities, the better for them.

Legal Problems

Every country has laws guiding alcohol production, sales, and consumption. Making your children know the right age to start consuming alcohol, and the quantity of alcohol to consume, will help protect them from getting into legal issues. Make sure you know the legal statement concerning alcohol in your country.

When to have The Talk

It is important for you to be the first to tell your child about it. Tell your child before the society does.

The influence of one’s peers in life is usually very strong especially at puberty. It will be better that as a parent, you talk to the child about it before his peers tell him how good alcohol is. Once the child gets the positive aspects of alcohol first, it will be very difficult to replace or make him understand the ills in it.

Talk to the child when his brain is still young. It is believed that children have the tendency of memorizing things from childhood. Every parent needs to be very careful and know the right time to raise the topic.

How to have The Talk

Make use of movies or cartoons projecting the ills of alcohol consumption and abuse. Cinema has become a very good communication tool in recent years. Various societal ills are being projected in movies with lots of life lessons to give. There are many movies’ parents could use as examples to teach children. Statistics show that most teen adopt things they see in movies.

Use every opportunity you lay your hands on. At every situation in life, your child should always be the number one priority. If you find anyone in trouble because of problems related to alcohol, use that as an example for your child. Take the child to rehabilitation homes where alcoholics are found. The child will definitely get some important lessons from there.

Cynthia Kuhn

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