Traditionally, programs designed to help prevent underage drinking have advised us to talk with our children at specific ages or moments in their lives. But children of all ages can benefit from on-going honest discussions about alcohol. To have meaning, these conversations have to be relevant, and relevance can’t be scheduled.
In our lives as parents, there are windows of opportunity we can use to help strengthen our influence. Sometimes these windows open predictably, such as right after a school assembly about underage drinking. Sometimes they open when we least expect them. Perhaps we’re driving home after a holiday party at a relative’s house at which an aunt or uncle had too much to drink. Or there’s a story about alcohol on the news. Or our son or daughter is invited to his or her first party.
In these moments, when our children’s minds are thrown open, our guidance and advice can blow in naturally, without resistance. To preserve our influence, we have to be on the lookout for these opportunities, and when we spot them, we should seize the moment.
When that moment presents itself it is important to be there for our children to discuss issues around drinking and guide them toward making healthy decisions for themselves when the time comes. The Labatt website titled Family Talk About Drinking does a wonderful job supporting parents when it comes to discussing drinking with our children. The website introduces the 3 stages of parenting (parents as teachers, parents as facilitators, and parents as coaches) and how they each relate to our interactions with our children when it comes to issues of drinking. Additionally, the website provides short video vignettes that give concrete examples of conversations we can have with our children about drinking at each parenting stage.
To learn more about the role of parents at each stage and tips for talking with your child about drinking at each stage, check out the links below, brought to you by Labatt Family Talk.