Yesterday we discussed alcohol and drug use in college students. Between what children hear from their parents, teachers, pediatricians, pastors, and other adult mentors growing up, it’s rather surprising that teenagers and young adults would have any desire to dabble in experimentation with drugs and alcohol. We must not be scaring them enough.
Of course, we adults may not be performing well enough as role models to put fear into our children’s hearts, especially when it comes to alcohol. It’s hard to speak negatively about something like drinking alcohol when children see their parents having a cocktail before dinner or a beer at the company picnic. Even when you are drinking responsibly, young kids may not see it that way. “Never drink and drive” has no meaning if, after a glass (or two) of wine with dinner, you drive everyone home from the restaurant afterwards. 80% of teenagers say their parents are the biggest influence on whether or not they drink. Therefore, parents should have the “booze” talk early. Very early, says Maggie Fox — before their first sip:
“Surveys indicate that children start to think positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13 years. The more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, and if they are already drinking, this exposure leads them to drink more,” Dr. Lorena Siqueira, a Miami pediatrician, and colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.
“Therefore, it is very important to start talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years of age.”
Just remember: It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.