4 Things I Wish I Would Have Done Differently (Teaching My Kids About Alcohol)
April is National Alcohol Awareness Month founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCADD) - 2018 marks the 28th year of this campaign.
According to NCADD, "Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment and recovery. It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus, make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease."
This years theme, “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage’", reminds me that alcohol awareness starts at home. I'm the first to admit that when my two older daughters were young and drinking in my life was still a thing, I didn't set the best example of how to be a responsible drinker. There were far too many, "I need a drink" comments, "Mommy doesn't feel good" mornings, and embarrassing birthday parties. But, aside from the obvious downfalls of drinking alcohol, like hangovers and embarrassing moments, I wish I had been capable of putting more thought into the idea of the example I was setting for my kids.
- I wish we had more conversations around the fact that our friend Henry (completely fictitious) was really goofy last night when he was dancing in our living room but what we really need to discuss is the fact that he got in a car and drove home (and we let him) and here are some reasons why that was a really poor decision.
- I wish I had the courage to let them see me on the bathroom floor and in bed for an entire day and then talked about WHY.
- I wish we didn't sit around and tell stories about 'that one time' when we were so drunk and that funny and awesome thing happened.
- I wish we didn't make every event revolve around alcohol - birthday parties, family dinners, Christmas. Does there need to be alcohol at 3 year old's birthday party?
Generally, I just wish we didn't work so hard at making alcohol the cool thing that made life so fun.
I can't erase those moments and while many times I do regret them, I remember that while this is not a rite of passage, it is all part of the process - mine and theirs. And hopefully we learn just as much from bad examples as good ones:)
While I don't discourage drinking (if it's an enjoyable, healthy thing for you), I do encourage you to be mindful of the example you are setting for your kids. Show them what it looks like to enjoy a glass of wine with friends around the dinner table. Or beer and peanuts on a blue-sky day at the baseball game. Since I have a 12 year old in the house now, I get a second chance at doing this right. Thankfully, drinking looks very different in our house now and when those opportunities present themselves to have a positive conversation about it you can bet we jump on that chance.
According to NCADD, "17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems". We can't control what's going on 'out there' (social media, school, etc) so let's be the first to set a good example where it counts - at home.
Remember, actions speak louder than words and our kids are watching and listening.