Alcohol is a huge issue. Research is showing kids are getting younger and younger when they’re consuming alcohol. If they ask mum and dad for a drink and the answer is no, some children are able to purchase it anyway. To deal with this, first realize that an adolescence brain is still growing and forming. Binge drinking does actually affect their brain development. This is not a trivial issue. It’s difficult if they’re already teenagers, but if your children are young and you think it’s not going to affect them, think again. You have to start engaging with your children now. The absolute best vaccination against the child getting involved in drugs and binge drinking is for them to feel worthwhile. When they’re offered this, at the age of fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen, they can say, “Look, it’s okay. You go ahead. I don’t need it, thanks.”
Give them a strategy. Think about peer pressure, and give your children some words to say. For example, say “Look. Sorry, I got a place bought tomorrow, or sorry I’ve got to work tomorrow, or, sorry, I’ve got a headache.” Give them a non-judgmental way of avoiding it. Don’t tell them to say, “Oh no, that’s bad for you,” because then the other kids will start to put pressure on them. Don’t leave them in the lurch, unprotected in a peer group situation. No one wants to be the nerd. They’ve got to want to pass it up in the first place. When everyone else is getting drunk, and they think they’re really funny, and your child is not drunk, all of a sudden they’ll realize it’s not all that funny after all, and you might get a phone call saying, can you pick me up now?
This article is an excerpt from Bruce Robinson’s interview with Jane Marwick on 6PR. Audio reproduced with permission.
Listen in to hear the whole interview using the player above or by clicking on this audio link.
Additional interviews with Jane Marwick:
- Alcohol and Children
- What to do When the Other Parents Don’t Care
- Why Father Figures are Important
- Being Involved and Overcoming Peer Pressure
- How the Fathering Project Started: Interview