Monday, May 01, 2006

Social drinking. A friend who read my post about the "Daddy Needs a Drink" book questioned my allegation that teens would do better to be raised in an alcohol-free home. He said France and Germany have lower rates of alcoholism than the U.S. and families in those countries let their teenagers drink. Although I've visited a number of European countries, I'm not very well versed on their adolescent and family behavior (although I did experience first hand some very rude teenagers in Paris - they egged the Seine tour boat I was riding in). Here is a helpful site on talking to your kids about alcohol. A couple of rules they suggest:

Provide age-appropriate information Make sure the information that you offer fits the child's age and stage. When your 6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, "There are lots of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But there are also things we shouldn't do because they hurt our bodies, like smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick."

If you are watching TV with your 8 year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a program, you can say, "Do you know what marijuana is? It's a bad drug that can hurt your body." If your child has more questions, answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated often enough will get the message across.

You can offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what marijuana and crack look like, their street names and how they can affect his body.

Establish a clear family position on drugs

It's okay to say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?"


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