Summertime Conversations with Your Loved Ones
Summer is a time when I tend to be my most relaxed. As a mom of two children (ages 9 and 12), it’s a welcomed break from packing lunches, school calendars and after-school activities. Our structured days mix with carefree ones, and there are opportunities to complete the items on our summer bucket list before and after family vacations and in between gatherings with friends. But, just because I’m relaxed and the routines may be different, it doesn’t mean that I can slack off on my parental responsibilities.
Warm weather, backyard barbecues, vacations to fabulous destinations, and holiday celebrations lend themselves to me being more inclined to enjoy a frosty cold beverage. A beer, blended drink or cocktail that features summer flavors may help quench the heat of the season but in the back of my mind, I’m constantly aware that my kids are always watching my every move. They notice what I drink, how often I drink, and how I behave when alcohol is present versus when it isn’t. They also notice how the parents of their friends act when they’re drinking.
As parents, we are our child’s first teacher and regardless of their age, they look to us for guidance whether we’re aware of it or not. Our parental responsibilities are never-ending and constantly evolving. The relationship that we have with alcohol and how we talk to our children about it sets the stage for how they perceive what is and isn’t a healthy relationship and can lead to either responsible behavior or recklessness.
As you sip this summer, take some time to talk to your kids about alcohol. While a CDC study found that fewer kids are drinking before the age of 13, you are your child’s first role model. Consider the message you are sending to your kids when you’re drinking in front of them. Talk with them honestly about this difficult topic and make them understand that an adult consuming alcohol responsibly is very different from someone their age drinking because of the effects that alcohol has on developing brains and bodies. Know your own limits when you’re with friends, on vacation, or imbibing in your own backyard.
And as you talk the talk, walk the walk. Provide a consistent message to your child through your own words and behaviors because responsibility starts with you.
Leticia is the founder of Tech Savvy Mama, a site that assists parents in navigating the ever-changing world of technology.