Drinking over a lifespan


You are a role model. Research shows that parents are the strongest influence on their children’s drinking decisions – even if young people don’t want to admit it. Your children are watching your behavior, which has a tremendous influence on them. If you choose to drink, model healthy decision-making when it comes to alcohol. Be clear that it is not acceptable to drink and drive or to drink to excess.

Regardless of your best efforts, your child may witness unhealthy alcohol choices as he or she is growing up. These are teachable moments that can help your child understand what not to do. Reach out to your child’s school and your community to learn about resources available for alcohol education and prevention programs.

Talk with your children. Speak openly with your children about alcohol. Make sure they understand why young people drinking is different from adults drinking. Explain why there are laws about underage purchase and drinking. Discuss the differences between responsible and dangerous drinking. Make sure your own actions are consistent with your messages.

Keep the conversation going. The news, videos, television, festivals, and family events all offer times to discuss issues about drinking with children.

Walk through typical but tough situations that can occur while growing up and create a game plan with your child on how to avoid bad situations.

Learning to drive. When your children are with you in the car, reinforce the message that drinking and driving is illegal and dangerous. In this way, you will help your children develop smart habits early.

When your children become old enough to drive themselves, remember that they need their full mental and physical attention. Drinking by new drivers is particularly dangerous.

Your family history. If your family has had a history of abuse or dependence problems in general or with alcoholism in particular, be sure to share this with your children. Help them to understand that they should consider their family history when they make their own decisions about drinking.