Parents have enough to worry about as their kids grow up. There’s how well they are doing at school, whether they’re mixing with the right friends, and what their future is going to look like once they reach adulthood. Mixed into all this is the worry is what they are getting up to when they are out of sight.
In most countries the law stipulates that children should not be allowed to drink before a certain age. Parents are responsible for making sure that this doesn’t happen. Because our kids are still developing into well into their late teens, drinking alcohol can had an adverse effect, particularly if it is used to excess.
Alcohol abuse in young people can interfere with their learning and schooling, change their behaviour dramatically and make them difficult to handle. While some may see drinking as a rite of passage and all part of growing up, abusing alcohol is a whole different story and can result in very destructive behaviour that continues well into adulthood.
Why Kids Drink
Children will drink alcohol for a variety of reasons:
The truth is that kids can generally be irresponsible and most people can think back to their own childhoods and identify times they did something stupid. One difference is that alcohol and drugs are more readily available nowadays than they used to be.
What to Do If You Think Your Kid Has Been Drinking
When kids are just beginning to find their feet in the world and get their own independence they don’t necessarily take it well when parents try to claw some of that back. If you have a good relationship with your child, then it shouldn’t be a problem to sit down and discuss things when you think they have been drinking. It can, however, still be an uncomfortable conversation.
If your child’s alcohol consumption is looking more like an addiction, then there are deeper problems to solve. Behaviour may change, your child might steal money from your purse or wallet to buy drink and they will probably stay out longer than you want them to. Some people suggest a formal intervention where the family sit around the table and discuss the child’s behaviour but this can often backfire, especially if they are not receptive. It might be better to have a professional intervention mediated by someone like a counsellor.
Trust Your Instincts
The truth is that most parents know their kids well. If you think there is something wrong and suspect there is a problem with alcohol, the chances are high that you are right. If you are worried, then it might help to keep a journal where you note down any particular behaviours or incidences. You can also use this to refer back to if you do have an intervention of any kind. Searching a kid’s room may seem like you are breaking some sacrosanct rule but you have their best interests at heart. If your child is developing an addiction there’s a good chance that you will find evidence of it there.
Develop a Plan
If you have a partner, then discuss the issue with them but any intervention works best if you have a solid plan of action and a clear idea of what you are going to say. That means considering how your child is going to react and how you are going to handle this, particularly if it is negative. It also means setting a specific time for the intervention and making sure you keep to it.
This is a conversation not a confrontation so don’t let it get out of hand if possible – come from a point of view of compassion and caring. You will also need to decide on some ground rules so that you can check whether your child is not drinking once the intervention is made. That might include calling them at regular times and making sure they get home on time.
Will Your Child Become Addicted to Alcohol?
Just because your child has started drinking does not mean they are going to become a fully-fledged alcohol abuser. That doesn’t, however, mean you should be taking a chance that they won’t. Intervening in this particular habit is important, if only to fulfil your obligations as a parent. Most parents love their kids and want the best for them – early intervention, when you notice drinking or drug taking has come into their lives, can keep your pride and joy on the right road and looking forward to a bright and exciting future, addiction free.