2012 was the first year that young women in Australia drank more alcohol than young men. They’re using alcohol to manage anxiety. What can you do to help lower the stress levels in your family? What can you do to slow things down and take off any pressure about academic achievement. The world will do that enough with them already. Hurry is the enemy of love. If we can slow it down, we reduce the stress levels in our kids.
If you don’t let them have their mobiles in the bedroom in the middle of the night, you’ll start to create a home environment that settles kids down after the stresses of the day. The difference between a girl who’ll have the odd drink and the girl who binge drinks is that, the girl who binge drinks wishes to overcome the massive anxiety that she’s carrying.
A principal of a girl’s school named Beth Blackwood sat in front of parents and said, the big issue for your daughters in years eight and nine is alcohol. Blackwood said that we’ve got to have a more mature conversation about this reality. It’s okay to talk about the 16 year old binge drinker or whoever is loading up at 18 before they go out. But we’re now talking about 13 and 14 year old girls.
With girls, they are pretty good around the age of 12, quite sensible and steady. People breathe a deep breath of relief. At 13, it all goes out the window. Brain science is really helpful in this. The forebrain melts down in a teenager. They can’t think straight. It stays melted down for about three to four years, and then at 14 the hormones are so strong that they’re stupid and hormonal. By 15 they’re starting to turn the corner and at 16 and 17 they’re improving all the way.
Brain science says a girl’s brain will be severely harmed by drinking at an early age. Even the idea that having a few drinks helps them to drink sensibly has turned out to be completely wrong. The brain can be affected by one drink a week. For mums and dads listening, I remind them that the biggest protection for your kids is you. You don’t have to be a genius and know everything about cybersex or internet pornography. Just be aware that the world is not the same as it was when you were a kid.
Your kids need to know that you’re paying attention, setting boundaries, and finding teachable moments to say, “Look, you’re better than that. I trust you, it’s your body, but you’re better than that.” You are the most important factor out there. Spend time with your kids.
The other thing to keep in mind is if kids are feeling a certain kind of pressure at school through their social networks and cyberspace. It is fantastic when kids play sport or do something outside of school and have a separate group of friends in their life. If things go badly at school, there is someone else they can rely on, on a Saturday morning.
Listen in to Geoff Hutchinson’s interview with Steve Biddulph and Bruce Robinson. The audio has been reproduced with permission.