Sunday, May 19, 2013

Should I have said something?

Let's assume your parents occasionally have a drink when they go out. A glass of wine at the dinner table or a refreshing beer on a hot day, a glass of champagne to celebrate a special occasion. Sounds acceptable, right? Not one person would say this is socially not acceptable, since the drinking habit is within limits.
Let's assume your parents have a drink or two when they go out. They have a drink at home, before they go out, because it sets the mood right. They treat their friends on shots at the pub and they think soda pop is for teens. How about a glass of wine with every meal and a shot of whiskey to round the day? Maybe a small glass of port around 11 AM, just for the fun of it? Half a crate of beer at a family party, just to show off and let their friends know how tough they are? What if they let you, at the age of 12, sip their drink, to see if you like the taste? Is that acceptable?

I wonder if there is a connection between the attitude towards alcohol and the chances you start to abuse alcohol, if you were introduced to alcohol at an early age. If you grow up under the assumption that alcohol can be used on a daily basis and as a part of a healthy, normal life, would you consider that strange? Would you question your parents about it? Maybe you don't know any better, since you trust your parents to raise you in the best possible way. They want you to become an independent individual with a mind of your own. To them, alcohol is part of that life and considered normal and acceptable. So you grow up and live your life and just like your parents, there is always an occasion to drink: a celebration, not feeling well, a rough day at work, one more glass left in a bottle you wanted to throw out, sad moments, happy moments, social drinking, getting promoted, 11 AM shots (as long as you don't drink before 11 AM, it's normal, right?). The alcohol makes you happy. That's what you experienced as a child. You saw your parents laugh and have a good time while having a couple of drinks. Easy, right? They would open a bottle of comforter to help getting rid of grief. There was no shoulder to cry on, because there was a cabinet filled with bottles to choose from.. A different drink for every emotion.

Are parents the role model in drinking behavior? How do you teach your children about moderation and the danger of addictions? How come 14 year olds are binge drinking without anybody stepping in? What's your role in educating your kids alcohol is a drug too?

I'm sure there are plenty of excuses: it's genetic, it helps me relax, it takes away my sorrows and I'm much more happy and cheerful if I have a few drinks. Does anybody tell them about the aftermath? Do they realize problems don't disappear but only get bigger? Do they discuss hangovers in a serious conversation or is it cool to tell others how much you have been drinking? What is the role of the parents? Is it necessary to step in and set the example?

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