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When You Drink In Front Of The Kids

Is it OK to drink in front of your children? And, if so, what's the best way to go about it, while still setting a good example? Clinical psychologist Robin Goodman, who is also a contributor to The Saturday Early Show, has some guidelines.

Parents must decide their own values and attitudes about drinking first. It's not illegal for them to drink in front of their children and not always realistic to abstain in front of them. There are things adults are allowed to do that children and teens are not.

Tips on how to blend drinking around your kids and being a good parent:

  • Set a good example. Parents are sending a bad message if they get intoxicated in front of their child - they need to have a consistent message. No double standard.
  • It can send a bad message if every night you come home from work and need a drink. What's the hidden message there? "I need a substance to unwind."
  • Parents must realize kids watch everything, learn from them, and want to be like them

    What are some of the best things (or biggest mistakes) parents can do to teach their kids about alcohol?

  • Parents have THE biggest influence on their children when it comes to drinking behavior. They are likely most worried about getting grounded, getting their car keys taken away.
  • Most teens respect their parents and want their approval..
  • Talk to your children about it, By ages 8 to 11, they're learning about health, their bodies and they want to do what friends are doing. By ages 12 to 17, they know who's using it, and they need to know more about their taking responsibility for use. They need to know it's OK to come to you.
  • Conversations must include: information, your stand, the risks and consequences of drinking.

    Set family rules and stick to them.

  • Some things are non-negotiable: NO DRIVING, give up keys, don't get in a car with someone, call for a ride if need be.
  • No underage drinking at your house, then no underage drinking at your house. Don't invite all the kids over so you can supervise. This sends a mixed message, and it's illegal.
  • Role play. It's a great way to reinforce these rules.

    Know your child.

  • Be involved. Know your child/teen's friends and what they're doing.
  • Know the warning signs of alcohol problems.
  • Pay attention to other mental health problems. One in five Americans with substance abuse disorders had mood or anxiety disorders during that time. (Source: American Psychological Association
  • Get help if there's a problem, especially with abuse or addiction in the family.
  • Teens need to know their health history to stay healthy, whether it's heart disease, cancer, or substance abuse and addiction. Being informed helps them to make good choices.

    Goodman's sources also included Start Talking Before They Start Drinking.

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