In our community, many of our celebrations and get-togethers include drinking. If you take part, use it as an opportunity to model responsible behavior to your children.

Parents play a powerful role in supporting the behavioral health of their children. By providing a safe and supportive environment that promotes health and well-being, children can grow, learn and thrive. Research shows that kids whose parents are actively involved in their lives are less likely to drink alcohol before they are 21.

On the other hand, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a child with a parent who binge drinks is much more likely to do so themselves. Binge drinking is defined as drinking so much within about two hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08 g/dL, the legal limit of intoxication when driving. For women, this typically occurs after four drinks, and for men, about five.

The NIAAA helps us to define responsible drinking as well. For women, low-risk drinking means no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it means no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.

Simply put, our children learn how to properly (or improperly) use alcohol from us – their parents. Researchers at the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) report that children who saw their parents intoxicated were less likely to look at them as role models.

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Raising children is a big job, and study after study shows that parents have enormous influence on their children’s behavior – even during their teenage years. As a parent, if you choose to drink, please model responsible drinking behavior. Show your kids that alcohol isn’t necessary to cope with life’s stress and challenges. Speak to them about drinking, and make sure that they understand that you disapprove of underage drinking.

By using alcohol responsibly – and communicating with our kids – we can protect future generations from substance abuse. It all starts now, and it all starts with parents like you.