No matter whether the legal drinking age in your country is sixteen, eighteen or twenty-one, it falls to you as a parent to teach your children about alcohol. You might not have pictured your little one drinking someday, but trust that they will, or one day give it a try. If your child understands that alcohol is prohibited for religious reasons, it’s likely that one day they will be in an environment that has alcohol present in whatever form. Dealing with this eventually as they are on the cusp of higher adolescence or adulthood can help them develop better attitudes to the way they interact with alcohol or better ways of interacting with those under its effects.
In some cultures, alcohol is something ubiquitous and socially understood, without much need for a formal lesson about it. But you never know what you might not understand, and taking the steps to speak to your child about this not only reassures them that you’re thinking about them, but that you’re willing to act as a parent if they ever get in trouble/an awkward situation while they’re drunk, increasing the likelihood they’ll be forthright about needing your help.
Don’t treat alcohol like the worst thing ever.
This is important. In fact, most people would say that if a parent has a relaxed attitude to something, it lessens the ‘forbidden fruit’ mystery around it that makes it less attractive. If you only repeat the negative effects, (hangover, silly antics, saying things you might regret,) you cause your child to question why alcohol is so universally praised and sold in our society, and they might choose to hide their drinking from you.
This is not healthy.
It’s better to have an open, trusting relationship with your child about all things, and this goes double for potentially dangerous activities such as drinking. If your child is over the legal drinking age, and you are together for a weekend, why not share a small bottle of wine so they can feel the effects in a trusting environment?
Teach them the basics about drinking etiquette.
This means teaching your child about what is expected in a drinking environment. Tell them the importance of not using a fake ID, especially with the best ID scanner apps gaining popularity. It isn’t as easy as it might have been when you were a child.
Teach them how to politely interact with bouncers (as much as can be done,) and how to order a drink. Tell them how to identify when enough is enough, and teach them the importance of either being a designated driver or just ordering taxi’s if their less-than-sensible friends can’t act responsibly.
Teach them about alcohol content and the dangers of bar culture.
The last thing you want to encourage or even permit is mixing drinks. This can lead to your child getting drunk twice as fast as they can handle, and can lead them to some dicey situations. Teach them about covering their drinks if they need to attend the loo, or taking it with them entirely. You can’t be too careful when it comes to the rising trend of drink spiking. Teach them about the dangers of arguing with people, as those who are drunk have impaired decision-making abilities, and might be happy to fight over relatively little.
But overall, teach your child to be responsible. This is the magic word when it comes to alcohol, and can transform a life of alcoholism or indecent behavior into one of celebratory, relaxed and bonding drinking experiences.