Tips for Parents this St. Patrick’s Day

Tips for Parents this St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s encourage change and starting the conversation. Keep reading for useful tips and questions to ask yourself as a parent and tips for talking to your teen about alcohol.

St Patrick’s Day, celebrated on the 17th of March annually, is probably Ireland’s most famous festival. Irish people throughout the world celebrate this day with pride in their Irishness. The St Patrick’s day celebration began as a  religious celebration to honour St Patrick. He was the patron Saint of Ireland with Christians allowed put aside Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption.  Over the years the day has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture, history and tradition with parades taking place not only in Ireland but throughout the world.  

Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption has in more recent times, been part of the St Patrick’s day celebrations. Recent research indicates that 69% of adults believe St Patrick’s Day feeds into the stereotype of Irish people and alcohol consumption while 42% think far too much is consumed on the national holiday.  1 

While some people may perceive celebrating events with alcohol and getting inebriated as being great fun and “craic,” the reality can be very different, as borne out in research. Research from the Global Drug Survey (2021) found that a feeling of regret after getting drunk is highest in Irish people with 28% feeling regret. Reasons for regret included “drank too much”,  “mixed my drinks”, and was “with big drinkers.” 2 

However, in the most recent Drinkaware Barometer research (2022) carried out by Behaviour and attitudes, there are signs of a cultural shift in the attitudes of Irish people with 39% of adults agreeing that “Irish drinking culture has changed for the better over the last 3 years.” 


We can change our relationship with and attitude to alcohol. That change has already begun! In the most recent Drinkaware Barometer research (2022) carried out by Behaviour and attitudes, there are signs of a cultural shift in the attitudes of Irish people with 39% of adults agreeing that “Irish drinking culture has changed for the better  over the last 3 years.”3 This change will also lead to a change in other people’s perceptions of Irish people and how we celebrate events.  Check out the benefits of cutting back or out alcohol.

We can change how we celebrate St Patrick’s Day. But change must begin with us and our families. It will only begin when we realise we need to change and take time to reflect on our knowledge about alcohol and reflect on our attitude to it and our behaviour around it. 

Questions to think about 

  • How do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? 
  • How did you celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a child? Is there a difference? 
  • Is St Patrick’s Day a family event for you? If so, what does that mean? 
  • What is central to that celebration- a parade, music, dance, art, food or does it centre around alcohol, either at home or in the pub? 
  • Are you aware of  the events being held locally? How will you be involved? 
  • What message might you be giving your children/teens about alcohol? Children as young as 5 years of age have already formed attitudes and beliefs about alcohol. 
  • If or when you drink do you monitor what you are drinking? 
  • Are you aware of the HSE Low-Risk Weekly Guidelines (LRWG) 47% of Irish adults maintain if they were aware of LSW-G they would follow them but only 3% can identify them.3 

Parenting your Teen 

St Patrick’s Day can provide an opportunity for you to chat to your teen about celebrations and alcohol, about what it really means to be Irish and to dispel myths around alcohol. Teenage drinking carries risks at a time when they are growing physically and emotionally, and the brain is still developing. As a parent, you have the greatest influence on your children’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours around alcohol. Check out our Parents Hub page to help start the conversation about alcohol.

 Talking to your Teen 

  • Talk in a positive, non-judgemental way, validating and encouraging your teen  
  • Negotiate clear rules about alcohol with consequences , which will assist in delaying the age your teen will take their first drink. This will help lower the risk of harmful drinking later in life.  Research shows Irish young people on average start drinking between 15 and 15.5 years of age.4/5 
  • Give a clear message that underage drinking is unacceptable and illegal 
  • Challenge views where teens see a need to drink to be grown up or have fun  
  • Remember that drinking during the teen years can lead to impairment of the brain, memory and the loss of other skills.  
  • It can lead to school drop-out and academic regression. Skipping school and absence from school were associated with the use of alcohol and drugs among 2019 ESPAD respondents in Ireland. Of students who had skipped school on 7 or more days in the last month, 79% were current drinkers, whereas the comparable figure for those who had not skipped school was 35%5 
  • Build on your teen’s talents and interests. 
  • Establish routines including mealtimes 
  • Monitor their whereabouts and get to know their friends and their parents 
  • Review your own drinking and role modelling 
  •  Plan and work together to organise healthy, appealing, fun family activities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day 

While there is no such thing as a perfect child or parent and realising that parenting can be a challenge, it can also bring great rewards. You can make a significant difference in your teen’s life through the relationship you develop with them. Cherish and nurture it. 

Wishing you a happy, safe and enjoyable St Patrick’s Day.


[1] Nationally Representative iReach Consumer Decisions Omnibus run between the 17-24 February 2022.

[2] Winstock ar, Maier LJ, Zhuparris A,Davies E, Puljevic C, Kuypers KPC, Ferris JA & Barratt MJ. (2021). Global Drug Survey (GDS) 2021 Key Findings Report

[3] The Drinkaware Barometer 2022 is a national population-based survey of 1,000 adults aged 18+ conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes in June 2022 and included a series of internationally recognised modules relating to alcohol consumption and mental health. 

[4] Summary Report of Maynooth University’s Evaluation of Drinkaware’s Junior Cycle Alcohol Education Programme (2018-2020)

[5] ESPAD Group (2020), ESPAD Report 2019: Results from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, EMCDDA Joint Publications, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.