As my daughter ran off to play with her friends, I sat down and helped myself to some corn chips and as I glanced around I was shocked to find that out of maybe 15 parents present, at least six of them were also drinking alcohol that they’d brought along.
At 2pm. In the afternoon.
Feel free to call me pompous, uptight or holier-than-thou but I just do not see any reason at all why there needed to be consumption of alcohol at an early afternoon social gathering where there were at least 30 children attending.
I honestly just cannot grasp the reason why these parents decided it was appropriate to drink alcohol at this time.
Like, I get that they may have been thirsty and wanted a drink — but beer, seriously? It was TWO O’CLOCK in the afternoon.
After I realised that other parents were drinking, I immediately felt uncomfortable and was keen to leave the event with my daughter. I remember driving home just in disbelief that such a simple, seemingly innocent social gathering for my child had to have alcohol involved.
It’s my belief that more and more times now in the current society we live in, adults are opting to drink alcohol when their children are present. Oh, it’s Molly’s first birthday — let’s serve champers! Hooray for Dan graduating primary school, come over to share some beers! Alcohol is even routinely served after christening and baptisms for goodness sake. Seriously?
Why can’t parents just attend a social gathering with their child and other parents and, I don’t know, just … not drink? It just seems completely inappropriate and unnecessary to me.
When adults feel the need to drink at each and every social gathering, I don’t believe they are being very good role models for their children. They are sending their kids the message that alcohol is a perfectly normal means of everyday social interactions. And it is not.
If you feel the need to continue to endorse and normalise the open consumption of alcohol around children because you believe it will promote a better relationship with liquor in the long run, you’re wrong. Or maybe you feel like it won’t do your child any harm to be around alcohol regularly?
Sorry, you’re wrong again. And the research and evidence backs this up.
DrinkWise Australia, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 by the alcohol industry, supports my stance.
As part of their guidelines, they encourage the provision of non-alcoholic gatherings with family and friends and advise parents and friends to show children that a good time can be had without alcohol.
Their research shows that, contrary to some opinions, an early introduction to alcohol can lead to increased binging and alcohol-related problems later in life. And children regularly being around alcohol counts very much towards their introduction to alcohol.
A study done by the National Alcohol and Drug Research Centre at the University of New South Wales supports this stance too, stating: “Children exposed to alcohol at home also tend to initiate alcohol use earlier and engage in problem drinking at a younger age than non-exposed children.”
So next time you are invited to a celebration or get-together with your family and you go to pack some beers or a bottle of champagne, don’t.
Pack some water and even a soccer ball instead and show your children that even you can have an enjoyable time with other adults without drinking alcohol. Because even if it is only one drink, it does matter.