Call me old fashioned, or call it what you will but I will not allow my kids to drink underage. I am actually quite alarmed at the number of kids that are allowed to drink alcohol. Either they are drinking at home with their parents, or their parents buy them the alcohol to take to parties. Why? Why does any parent think it’s a great idea for minors to be getting drunk on weekends, or even during the week? I was horrified to hear that at my daughter’s school how many students would turn up to school hung over and would consistently drink to excess on weekends. Here are my reasons why I won’t allow my kids to drink underage;
· It's a No Brainer –
During the adolescent years the brain is going through significant change and development and alcohol can severely impair this. In particular the prefrontal cortex of the brain undergoes remodeling during teenage years. The prefrontal cortex regulates our thoughts, actions and emotions. Damage to the prefrontal cortex can lead to addictive behaviours that can ultimately result in long term mental health issues like depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. All that aside though the teenage brain is a highly emotional one at the best of times. Mixed with alcohol is not a good combination which is why when we see young people extremely intoxicated they can make extremely irrational decisions and act out impulsively, putting themselves and others at harm.
· Safety First –
Based on what I have just spoken about above I would fear for my kid’s safety if I knew that they were drinking alcohol underage. At the time it seems fun, yet one poor decision can change your life. The majority of deaths of young people in Australia is due to or a direct result of alcohol/drug consumption. I have often said to my eldest daughter that I say no because I care, not because I want to make your life difficult. I also would not want to put her in a position where she felt unsafe. As a parent it is my job to protect my kids. It’s not my job to be their friend and encourage them to be drunken fools because it’s funny. When they are of age they can then decide themselves what they want to do, but I will always advise them of the associated dangers and health issues and with that they can make an informed decision as to what they might want to do.
· One Punch Kills (Physical and Sexual Assault) –
Intoxication hinders your ability to make rational decisions. Young people are more at risk to be subjected to physical and sexual violence. The statistics are quite alarming. 1 in 5 women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime according to Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.
Ice Epidemic (addiction) –
Drinking at a young age is more likely to result in other substance abuse and higher risk of addiction. What follows with that is poor attendance at school, drop out, decreased motivation to get a job and/or study. And then you’re left wondering what went wrong?
Parents need to be parents and the line needs to be drawn. What helps though is to have that informed discussion with your son or daughter. They are at an age where they can understand and they are also at an age that warrants respect and trust. Respect and trust is a two way street. I make these decisions because it is about reducing the risk of harm to my kids and because I love my kids, it’s not because I want to spoil their fun. You can have fun without being intoxicated and as adults we need to be good role models for our kids. So no use trying to enforce this rule if you are wiping yourself out in front of your kids. Drink responsibly! Whilst the decision might be a tough one for them, in the end they will appreciate you for it. Let’s work together to help our kids off to a healthy start in life.