When I was in highschool , I never drank alcohol. My parents didn’t drink, and that i was taught that alcohol wasn’t only unhealthful but immoral. once I need to college, I made up for lost time, falling into a standard pattern of school student Drink. I drank heavily Friday and Saturday (and often Thursday) nights, sometimes to the purpose of blacking out large chunks of the previous evening.
Now that I’m a parent, i feel about my young kids’ future relationships with alcohol. the apparent lesson from my very own experience seems to be that exposing kids to responsible drink consumption from a young age may be a good idea, because it’d protect them against excessive drinking afterward . I’m not alone during this assumption; many parents believe that letting their teens drink —and even hosting their kids’ drinking parties—will lower their risk for developing a drinking problem.
But a recent conversation on the Think Act Be podcast with alcohol researcher Dr. Robert Leeman changed my mind. “There’s a notion among some parents that ‘my kids and their friends are getting to drink anyway—why not just have the party at my house?’” said Leeman. “’That way they’ll be safer.’” But the info tell a special story. “That’s really not an honest idea, for variety of reasons,” he said.
Don’t Condone Drinking by Your Underage Children
“One simple thanks to help your kids avoid problems with alcohol is to greatly minimize their exposure to Drink,” said Leeman. While he acknowledged that that recommendation might sound like “master-of-the-obvious,” it does fly within the face of what many of us believe.
When you provide your underaged children with access to drink, “you’re condoning together with your actions that alcohol use early in life is okay,” Leeman said. “But the info over and once again point to the conclusion that early drink is problematic. It’s one among the foremost consistent findings that there’s .”
For example, an outsized study checked out the age when youths first consumed a full serving of drink (e.g., 12 ounces of a typical beer) then followed their drinking behavior over time. Teens who had their first drink at a younger age were at significantly higher risk for binge drinking and for consuming more alcohol within the past year. These results were maintained even when the researchers statistically controlled for potentially confounding factors, like variables associated with their family or peers. Other studies (like this one) support these findings.
A review and meta-analysis of 13 studies confirmed that children are less likely to develop Drink problems if their parents have stricter rules about alcohol use. The study authors’ conclusion: “On current evidence, parents should be advised to not allow children to use alcohol.”
This recommendation could also be even more compelling in light of evidence that early drink results in changes in how the brain is wired. for instance , this study found that individuals who started drinking at a younger age had changes in parts of the brain involved in attention, which were linked to worse performance on attentional tasks.
Also problematic, consistent with Leeman, is that oldsters who give their underage children alcohol often unwittingly facilitate “the early initiation of not just any use, but heavy use.” His succinct recommendation to discourage alcohol problems in your kids echoes that of the meta-analysis above: “Don’t expose them to alcohol.”
Minimize Alcohol Consumption Around Your Kids
What about your kids seeing you responsibly enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with the game? “The data say it might be better if you don’t do this around your children,” said Leeman. “But if you are doing , attempt to keep it moderate—few and much between.”
Talk Openly and Nonjudgmentally About Alcohol
On the opposite hand, you don’t want to be so critical of alcohol that it takes on the allure of “forbidden fruit,” said Leeman. Calling alcohol “a tool of the devil,” for instance , could backfire and make it more enticing.
“Have an honest, nonjudgmental, fact-based conversation together with your child about alcohol,” advises Leeman. “And put away the wagging finger—the nonjudgmental part is basically important.” If we’re overly emotional or reactionary, we’ll probably find yourself isolating any real communication. “Once you begin to urge judgmental,” said Leeman, “people just enter defensive mode and pack up .”