I’ll never forget it. We were out to eat at Olive Garden one night and the wait for a table was something like 45 minutes. Waiting 45 minutes with three kids is a unique form of torture. Luckily I knew that the tables in the bar area are first come first serve and a booth had just opened up. As we walked in, my then five-year-old says in a horrified voice – “But Mom! This is the alcohol room!!” This is a question I frequently get asked – when should I start talking to my kids about alcohol?
It’s Never Too Early
The sad reality is that our children are exposed to alcohol much sooner than we realize. They see it on TV and in the movies – yes even kids’ movies. They hear it on the radio and are exposed to it in every day life. There are toddlers hearing that they can’t have a sip of that drink because it is “Mommy Juice”. Do not, for even a minute, think that there is such a thing as talking about it too early. You can be too late – but never too early.
Be Honest and Transparent
Just as you don’t want to be a zealot when talking to your friends when you decide to quit drinking, you need to be careful how you approach the subject with your kids. It can be hard to bounce back from your five-year-old shouting out at a backyard BBQ that alcohol is the devil’s poison. So yes, talk to your kids about alcohol. Be honest and transparent about why you don’t drink. Don’t, however, come down as judgmental or sanctimonious on those who do still drink. That, after all, used to be you!
Talk about why people drink. Right now is when you should start to empower your children with knowledge. Let them know today that they don’t need alcohol to fit in. Alcohol won’t make them have more fun. It isn’t relaxing. It won’t help you sleep or any of the million other reasons we have all given for drinking. Remind your kids that it is just a liquid in a bottle. It doesn’t hold any magical properties but there IS magic inside THEM. They are funny, fun, brave, smart, outgoing and plenty special just the way they stand before you right now.
When Should I Start Talking To My Kids About Alcohol?
I don’t believe in taboo topics. If your child is old enough to ask about it, they deserve an age appropriate response. The appeal is in the forbidden so don’t give it that status. Our children deserve to be told the truth and to be given all of the information they need. Don’t glamorize alcohol with stories of your glory days or with counting down until they are 21. Talk about all the “hard” subjects from an early age and maintain an ongoing and open line of communication from the beginning.
Find Out More
Learn more about talking to kids about alcohol – start reading This Naked Mind for free today!