Alcohol and young teens can be a tricky parent dilemma. In the interests of arming ourselves with some solid advice for those fast growing kids I’ve been doing a touch of research. Let’s be clear I am talking about early teens, post 16 is an entirely different ballgame.
So the big question is – if we, as adults, drink alcohol then why shouldn’t they?
Possible answers - We are making adult decisions, we know better our limits…..
You could turn to this website if stuck for ideas –
… which includes great information such as ‘during childhood and teenage years, the brain is still developing. Alcohol can affect memory function, reactions, learning ability and attention span – all especially important during their school years’.
‘Evidence also reveals that children who start to drink by age 13 are more likely to go on to have worse grades, to skip school and, in the worst case scenario, to be excluded from school’.
So how about when this does not sink in and you receive that text, you know the one that goes something along the lines of,
Can I like have 3 ciders for party tonight (with a pleading emoji face)
I’m writing this out of interest, of course, I don’t claim to have all the right answers.
But I’m certainly inclined to say no (many times) - you are too young to drink.
Further persuasion may go along the lines of:
But you are the only parent who doesn’t give their kid alcohol. It’s not fair.
Still no, this needs a team effort surely? There is a growing condoning of underage drinking and I’m wondering why. It doesn’t need to be driven under-ground, we can have open conversations with our children about it, perhaps giving them a small drink at home Continental style; it certainly can’t be a huge taboo. But actually buying the stuff for them to take to a party?
Older generations may disagree. I have heard ‘Well you drank alcohol at 13’.
But why was that? I was a child and was not making an adult decision. Surely it’s important to look back and reflect on our actions rather than just follow familial patterns.
Another retort, ‘If you don’t buy it for them then they will drink someone else’s’. Well. Yes, this is clearly a possibility but I am then still not condoning the consumption of alcohol with my decision.
Don’t misunderstand I am not a tee-total, far from it and never would I offer a holy than thou nutritionist front. I drink in-front of my kids but I am making an adult choice, and drinking as an adult is vastly different to drinking at the age of 13.
Children are vulnerable and alcohol makes them even more so. Again, from the ‘Drink Aware’ site,
‘Puberty is often a very tricky time for kids – both emotionally and physically. Their natural tendency can be to experiment and take risks is increased. Drinking alcohol can put them in vulnerable or dangerous situations. For example, among 10 – 17 year olds who have had an alcoholic drink, 12% have experienced a serious harm as a result of their drinking (trouble with the police, being a victim of crime, been taken to hospital or gotten into a fight)’.
We can’t prevent our kids drinking at such a young age but openly placing alcohol (to be consumed at a party when you are not around) into the trusting hands of a 13 year old, according to the Drink Aware experts, may be upping their chances of accidents, mental health issues, alcohol poisoning and further addiction.