Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Help This Woman: I Have Teens, Should I Lock Up The Liquor?

Photo credit: iStock
A couple of weeks I ago I wrote a post about trying to manage my stress, including talking to my kids about how we should and should not do that. One of the specific things I wrote about was trying not to perpetuate this idea that stressed people drink to feel better. No, we don’t. We play Trivia Crack and watch Property Brothers. LIKE CHAMPIONS. 

Anyway, the post led to some really interesting feedback including some emails from folks who were struggling with how to be honest and open with their older kids (tweens and teens) about alcohol. I GET IT. My oldest is heading into 7th grade. Middle school is a whole new ball game, you guys. So I was pretty excited to ask for your advice on a couple of questions relating to middle/high school kids and alcohol. 

Let’s start with this email:
Hey Lydia/Julie!  
Thanks for writing about this! We really have no cultural consensus on dealing with kids and alcohol. If I'm going to screw up my kids, I would at least like to do it roughly the same way as everyone else. 
We have a wine rack in the basement. And some tequila, and gin, you know the drill. 
We've started hosting Pizza-and-a-Movie nights where a kid gets to invite a group of friends to hang out for the evening. In the rec room! In the basement!  Next to the…wine. Group sleepovers happen in the rec room! Next to the….wine. 
So when our 12-year-old daughter had her closest nine friends for a sleepover, we boxed up the alcohol and hid it. It only takes one kid at 2am to break out a bottle and start a disaster. And the sleepover was a one-time thing, so it was easy to box it.  But the Pizza Movie nights? Those are a regular thing. And for our 16-year-old, they run long and late. 
So I just ordered a Wine Jail. It's this big honking thing and you can PADLOCK IT. Is this overkill? I have no idea. I feel like I bought a gun safe for my Pinot Noir. 
Do you make alcohol too big a deal if you lock it up?  HERE, KIDS. HERE IS THE SUPER SPECIAL IMPORTANT STUFF THAT ONLY GROWNUPS CAN HAVE. REMEMBER HOW YOU'RE DYING TO BE A GROWNUP? HERE'S A BIG BOX OF GROWN-UP-NESS.
So that’s our first question:
Do you make alcohol too big a deal if you lock it up? Are you creating safe boundaries or creating an irresistible temptation?

My second question is:
How do you continue the ongoing conversation about alcohol with your kids, once the temptation and/or pressure to try it actually becomes a reality?

I’m asking this last question for me personally, because I feel like it’s kind of easier to have conversations with kids about drinking when they’re little and they don't have much interest in it. It’s not like Mini is going to get offered a Red Bull & vodka at her friend’s My Little Pony Friendship is Magic birthday party. It’s a totally different story for her older sister, though. Middle school means new friends who I don’t know. It means a social life where this thing could actually come up. I want her to feel ready if it does, because we’ve already talked about it. 

If you could share your thoughts, experiences, and advice on these questions, that would be so great. Please leave a comment here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I’ll compile everyone’s advice in a new post next week.
  
April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #TalkEarly campaign, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very, very proud to be part of the #TalkEarly blogger team this year. 

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015

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