Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, is encouraging parents – and other family members – to be positive role models around alcohol for their children over the Christmas period. 78% of parents cite family celebrations as the top occasion where their children are exposed to them drinking alcohol, while almost half (44%) said this was likely happening in their home.
Ahead of the Christmas party season, Drinkaware have three top tips for parents to help them be positive role models for their children:
Be mindful during Christmas celebrations
Think about the messages you are sending around alcohol, particularly at home. With more social occasions to attend during the festive season, there are typically more opportunities to drink alcohol. As a child’s number one influence, parents have a proactive role to play in shaping more mindful attitudes towards alcohol.
Make sure that alcohol isn’t accessible
Almost 1 in 5 adults in Ireland were first introduced to alcohol in the home, while 27% were given their first drink by a parent or close relative. Keeping alcohol separate and limiting access to it in the home sends a clear message that it is not intended for children.
Stock up on no-alcohol options
Have plenty of visible non and low alcohol alternatives for adults to help reinforce that alcohol isn’t the only option and is not needed to have fun or celebrate.
Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, said:
“Christmas is the season for family gatherings, when young and old come together to celebrate. However, it is also a time where alcohol can feature prominently during the festivities. Knowing this, Christmas provides the perfect opportunity for adults to be positive role models around alcohol for their children. We’re encouraging parents – and other family members – to be mindful of the messages they may be sending about alcohol, often without even realising. Examples of this include commentary about alcohol and using it as a reward, a relaxant or a de-stressor, and also centring family occasions around alcohol. These types of messages give children the idea that alcohol is a necessary part of everyday life, no matter of the occasion.
“During Christmas we suggest limiting how often you or other adult relatives drink alcohol in front of your children. And stock up on no-alcohol alternatives for you and your guests – this will show your children that alcohol is not needed to enjoy an event. When parents have informed, mindful attitudes and behaviours about alcohol, they are showing their children how to do the same. If you plan to drink alcohol over the Christmas season, make sure your influence is a positive one. Order our free Parents Pack at drinkaware.ie for helpful tools and resources.”