I know you have all heard the lyrics, may even have sung along with the catchy tune. I’m talking about lyrics found in country songs like; “red solo cup” and hip hop music like, “so what we get drunk.” I know what you’re thinking, it’s just music right? I often thought the same thing, until I started to wonder how those lyrics and the message they send are affecting my adolescent children. It’s not really just about the music but about the environment the adult singers are promoting to their non-adult listeners. For me growing up drinking in high school and college was considered a normal if risky “right of passage” so to speak. I grew-up in an atmosphere where every party I went to involved underage drinking in some manner or another, either condoned by the adults around me or stolen when there was no adult supervision. However, I have made the choice that I do not want my children to live in the same sort of environment where underage drinking is condoned or even tolerated.
I might be getting old but I feel a huge responsibility to be a role model to my own children. The cycle of drinking as an adolescent and thinking that the only way to have a good time is to “party” with the rest of the kids has to stop somewhere. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 2 in five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. What is worse, 50% of those 8th graders obtained the alcohol from their parents or other adult role model and 11% of them are engaging in binge drinking. As a mother of teens and an educator who has dedicated her life to keeping children safe, reading those statistics places a heavy burden upon my heart. The old adage, “do as I say, not as do,” just isn’t going to cut it in this age of insightful and highly impressionable youth. I want to be the change. The Following simple guidelines will get us all started on a path to stop the alarming underage drinking trends.
- Plan social activities, parties and other events where your children can observe you having a good time without alcohol.
- Talk with your kids about the risks associated with underage drinking.
- If you do drink yourself, drink responsibly. What this means is limit the amount you drink and how often you drink.
- Stay away from high risk drinking situations. I.e. drinking and driving or boating is a definite no!
- If you think you might have a drinking problem, get help.
- Most importantly, be involved in your children’s lives, show them you care about what matters to them and will support their happiness!