I consider myself very lucky. Currently my tweens (8 & 11) and teen (13) are happy to be spending time with me and being at home. However that doesn’t mean that having important talks is not needed. As a Mom it is my job to make sure that we have the important talks and help prevent underage drinking. As of right now my kids have good heads on their shoulders and very caring hearts! My goal as a Mom is to keep things that way. I know they are going to make mistakes in life, but I want to prevent as many of them as I can by making sure they are well informed. The Know When. Know How. campaign, a statewide, research-based education and prevention effort targeted to Pennsylvania parents of children ages 8 through 12, is the perfect resource for parents.
On New Years Eve, my kids had been invited to their youth group New Year’s Eve party, and they opted not to go. They asked if they could skip it because they would rather stay home and hang out with me. So that is what we did, we stayed home and played board games late into the night. Mom Win!
I am not going to kid myself to think that they will always do exactly what I would want them to do with life. They don’t always now make the choices I would want them to and they have to learn from those mistakes. Thankfully we have had nothing major, and challenges have all been small stuff that really makes no difference in life overall. However there are things – like underage drinking- about which I want them to understand the consequences long before the time should arrive for them to face that situation.
For me, the hardest part of the underage drinking conversations with them is not the topic per se. It is an ongoing subject around our house that we talk about regularly. Bringing it up to them in general as a dedicated conversation is where I struggle. I had to make sure that they didn’t think I assumed they would be drinking while underage, that I was just making sure I have given them all the information they would need, and that they have been understanding our previous talks.
We had never had a sit-down type talk in our house until now about alcohol and underage drinking. It has been an ongoing discussion in our house for many years, and since we often watch the news together, topics like alcohol are often brought up. I told them that I just wanted to make sure they knew all the information, just in case I had missed something important that I thought they should know.
I was happy with how receptive they were to sitting down to talk, but I guess it makes sense since children ages 8 to11 are most receptive to parents’ input, and my kids know it is my job to teach them about tough things like alcohol. When sharing statistics with them like how 1-in-3 kids have tried alcohol before age 8, both of my younger kids thought that was crazy. In fact Logan said, “Why would a kid want to drink alcohol when chocolate milk tastes so good!”. Yes, kiddo PLEASE keep that thought process! It makes me very happy! Alyssa told me, “There are so many things that sound more fun, like going to the beach!”.
I shared with them that underage drinking carries serious risks that can negatively impact their development, and it can cause nerve cell and brain damage, preclude participation in sports and activities, and significantly increase risks for alcoholism and other abuse disorders later in life. I was happy when McKenzie told me she “has too many goals for life to mess that up.”.
Honestly, it was a little intimidating to think about sitting down with them, not so much because topics like underage drinking are challenging to talk about, but because it also means my kids are growing up. However, it is a topic that we need to talk to our kids about. Kids at school or in activities may not have the same conversations at home, and so we need to make sure our kids are well prepared for anything life throws at them.
If you are looking to have the important talk with your kiddos, make sure you check out How to Prepare to Talk to your Tween About Underage Drinking, and get all the facts you need to share with your kids here to help you get started!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.