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Family 411: Having an alcohol discussion with your kids

Parents are a big influence on their children.

So when it comes to alcohol, experts believe a conversation about drinking is better sooner than later.

Some parents lock it up, some leave it out. While other moms and dads just don't have any alcohol around the house.

Children are watching and learning.

"Children start to really form opinions and attitudes about alcohol as early as age nine."

Psychiatrist Dr. Megan Schabbing says it's important parents talk to children about alcohol and have the conversation early.

"It's kind of a matter of they don't know what to say. They don't know when to say it."

Dr. Schabbing says keep the conversation brief, in an open forum that's not threatening.

"You know if you were to drink and you get caught, you could wind up having a permanent criminal record."

Jean Glagola has always had an open relationship with her children.

"I would rather they learn anything and everything from us."

She says she grew up with alcohol around her and the freedom to try it.

"I can remember going on vacation to Atlantic City being eight or ten years old and my mom would say do you want to try the pina colada."

Jean brought the same philosophy into her own home.

"If they wanted to try it, they could try it."

Jean's two children are now adults but says she's built the same open relationship with her stepchildren.

A 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.

"He can't wait till he's old enough to drink because he likes the different flavor of beer."

Dr. Schabbing advises against allowing children to sample alcohol.

"You want them to think in their minds it's not okay to drink under age."

Jean says her children understand drinking is an adult activity that comes with responsibilities and consequences.

"I'm sure there are other children if doesn't work with. You have to take another avenue for that, but I think for most kids, if you're honest with them, and practice what you preach, they'll see that."

Dr. Schabbing suggests finding a natural way to bring up the conversation, one that could be related to your own behaviors.

If you'd like more information on how to start the discussion, there are resources out there that offer recommendations like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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