Alcohol and our children
Alcohol is the most abused drug there is. This abuse is not just among adults but children as well. Because of the availability and easy access many children will have their first drink before their thirteenth birthday; some as early as ten years old. Too many times a pretty picture is painted of joy, laughter and relaxation with alcohol being the tool used. Our youth tend to do as we do and not as we say do. We must be careful about the pictures that we paint for them. We must educate them before one of their friends do it for us. To drink or not to drink is a decision that we all must make for ourselves. I hope that the knowledge of it's effects upon our bodies will aid in making a more educated decision.
Our children are in the learning process, their ability to reason is not that of an adult. We must open the road to communication earily. The use and abuse of this drug is all around them, all around us. We need to teach our kids that NO is a good word " just say no ". By opening the road of communication our kids will be more apt to come to us with their questions and problems; even when those questions may be imbarrassing or uncomfortable for us. Don't forget that alcohol is just as much a drug as cocaine or marijuana. Remember that our kids do look to us for guidance. As long as their are people drinking or getting drunk in movies, public places... it's not too earily to talk to them. Let them know that you are not ok with it, let them know the effects that it can have on them.
The effects of alcohol
Our youth may wonder what the big deal is since alcohol can be made from the very things that we eat and the answer is simple. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system; which in turn has an effect on the body as a whole. Alcohol is a depressant and as with all depressants it slows down the brain and affects the way that you would normally function. If our youth knew the long term effects of alcohol they may make wiser decisions when confronted.
- Impaired response time while driving which can lead to accidents or worse (death}.
- Slurred speech, inability to walk straight and memory loss.
- Blackouts or not knowing what may have occurred while in an intoxicated state can lead to crude behavior anywhere from undressing in public to other out of control behavior that you can't take back once the deed is done.
- Teens who drink are more likely to be sexually active at an early age before their non drinking friends.
- Having unsafe sex with people that you may or may not know. Things of this nature can not only ruin your reputation but it can bring about unwanted pregnancy before you are ready to consider bringing about a family.
- Rape may be an ugly word but if you put yourself in the wrong position because of alcohol (be you male or female) you are setting yourself up for a fall. Our own peers can be a predator and a drunken state can make us easy prey.
- Ulcers are only one of the stomach ailments to look forward to, along with cirrhosis of the liver and hardening of the arteries.
- More and more kids are overdosing on alcohol everyday. This could mean more than a hangover or hospital stay but death.
- Alcohol use among our youth has been linked to more than just death by car crash but drowning, suicide and homicide as well.
- Teens who start drinking early are more than three times as likely to develop an alcohol dependency problem as opposed to someone who waits until they are older.
Why 21 ?
With maturity comes wise decisions, or should I say that it was the original intention. No matter how smart a teen may consider themselves to be, their brains are still growing. The twenty one year old age limit put on the purchase of and consumption of alcohol is for a good reason. Our youth lack the coping and judgement skills to properly handle alcohol. As much as they may want to believe otherwise they have not been on the planet long enough.
You do remember what it was like to be a child. I can remember how awkward I felt and my desire to fit in. I was too tall,my legs were too skinny and I wasn't pretty enough. As our kids grow and reach their teen years fitting in becomes more and more important. They look to commercials, movies and friends for acceptance and advice. Independence and self awareness is all around them. As we give room for our kids growing independence we must also maintain a hold on them as well. Being a part of the whole is very important to them. Peer pressure can lead our youth down a road that they are not ready for and lack of acceptance can do even greater damage.
Communication, communication, communication
Be honest with your kids, let them know how you feel about underage drinking. Scare tactics do not work, children know that there are people all around them that drink without ill effects. Let your child know the damaging effects of alcohol on their young brains. Never glamourize your own party experience when talking to your kids, they may take it as a must try. Don't be afraid to share an embarrassing moment that came about in your youth because of the use of alcohol (there is a negative side).
If you keep alcohol in your home be sure to monitor it. Families with a history of alcoholism are more likely to have a child who may develop the problem. Be your child's role model, don't allow them to see alcohol as a quick fix to a bad day. Let them know that there are other ways to deal with stress (exercise, music, talking). Break the boredom cycle, enroll your kids in supervised activities where drugs and alcohol are forbidden (basketball, football, swimming, crafts...). Know who your children plays with as well as their parents. If your child has friends who drink you should know. Our kids do value our opinion even if they don't let us know.
© 2013 loveofnight