We all have those things on our to do list that seem to get pushed back each week. We tell ourselves that we will get to it next week. Those items that seemed to be important in the beginning tend to feel less important the more we forget to complete that task. I am guilty of this in a few areas of my life. Thankfully one of those tasks did not fall by the wayside in our family. A few years ago my wife and I spoke with our oldest daughter, who at that time was getting ready for middle school, about risky behaviors such as underage drinking and underage cannabis use. It was an open and honest conversation.
When To Have The Conversation About Alcohol With Your Child
Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. Part of parenting is trusting your instincts on what is best for your child. Another part is doing research on what your children are facing that might be different from when you were growing up. Each generation faces different things at different ages. What you thought would be the right time to talk with your kids about alcohol may have changed. How do you know when it is the right time? Thankfully we have a way to find out. The good people over at Responsibility.org have created a program that will help parents with talking to their kids about underage drinking.
In 2003, Responsibility.org, alongside a team of educators and organizations specializing in elementary and middle schoolers, developed Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix. Ask, Listen, Learn is a completely free digital underage drinking prevention program for kids ages 9-13 and their parents and educators with the goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate underage drinking. The information provided throughout the program guides adults with ways to start communicating with kids about alcohol and the developing brain and how to continue talking to them as part of a lifetime of conversations. Both science and evidence-based, Ask, Listen, Learn is the most widely distributed underage drinking program of its kind.
The Time Is Now
I encourage you to go over to the Ask, Listen, Learn website. There are sections for teachers, parents and kids. Your kids might not be in school right now. We are still navigating our way through this pandemic. You might think that you won’t need to talk to them about alcohol and underage drinking since they are home with you. This is a perfect time. When have you had this much time with your family? Do some research on your own at the Ask, Listen, Learn website. Share this information with your family. Have an open conversation with them. Then share this site with your kid’s teachers. They could use this in the classroom as well.
I spoke with Responsibility.org’s CEO, Chris Swonger on my podcast, The Art of Fatherhood. We both agree that these conversations don’t take place in a vacuum. If there is a situation where it is a great time to chat with your kids about underage drinking, the effects of alcohol and how adults should drink responsibly, you should have that conversation right away. I remember my family and I watching a movie and a kid tried drinking a beer and spit it out. After that movie we talked about that scene and said how that kid was too young to have been drinking. We used that movie as a perfect moment to bring up the dangers of underage drinking. Be on the lookout for those moments with your kids. You and your kids will benefit from those conversations.
Kids Look Up To Parents
These are topics you need to bring up your kids. They may seem like they are going to be tough and awkward, but these conversations are necessary. Parents are the number one influence on their kids’ decision to drink or not to drink alcohol. Let that set in for a moment. We want to equip our kids with everything in life to help them succeed. Underage drinking can cause serious repercussions.
We might not know the right things to say to them, but that is why the Ask, Listen, Learn website is there. It guides our conversations with them. It allows them to explore that site and learn first hand the damage underage drinking can have on them. You might think they are too young to understand everything you are talking about, but just get the conversation going. This is not a one time chat. This is an ongoing conversation that you need to have with them. It needs to start somewhere.
It Takes A Village
I am proud to work with Responsibility.org here at The Art of Fatherhood. They are doing tremendous work in all facets of this topic. Use their knowledge, hard work and dedication on this subject matter. They want us all to succeed. This is something that might be hard on us, but not having that conversation on the dangers of underage drinking will be far more painful. The only bad conversation is the one you don’t have.
Please note: I teamed up with Responsibility.org for this article, but my thoughts are my own.