One thing I have noticed over my years of working with children is the attitude their parents take concerning the exposure to alcohol. Before anyone believes that I have a holier than thou approach, the truth is my ideas are fairly convoluted. For example, I don’t drink around my children. But, my wife will have a glass of wine with dinner occasionally and it doesn’t bother me in the least. My friends also drink around my children at parties and I’m not put off by them either. Not drinking around my children is simply a personal decision. My goal for this post is for parents to simply think about their attitudes about alcohol and their children.
Last weekend, my wife ran out of wine. Therefore (being the hunter gatherer of the house) I went out to correct this atrocity. When I went to the liquor store though, I saw something that was a bit unusual. A mom, dad, and two children (probably ages 8 and 5) walked out of the store’s beer cave with a cart full of beer. While there are some people reading this thinking what bad parents they are, there are others pumping their fists thinking, “Now that’s what I am talking about.” Though I don’t want to judge this family, I question the message this act sends to their children.
Though I have had the same attitudes about alcohol, that doesn’t mean I am immune to an alcoholic story. For example, about a month ago, my family attended my god son’s birthday party where alcohol was served. I was in the yard watching my 4 year old when my 7 year old approached me. He asked if I would open his bottle of lemonade. I wasn’t really paying attention so I said “sure.” When I took the bottle, it felt ice cold. I looked down to discover it was a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. What was funny was that the other guests had thought I had sent him to the cooler to get it for me. Of course, this was an innocent mistake.
Minutes before I started writing this post yesterday, I asked my 4 year old what he wanted to drink with his lunch. He usually drinks chocolate milk but I am out of chocolate (I know- I know- poor parenting). Anyway, I asked what else he would like and he pointed to a bottle of Mike’s Lite Hard Cranberry Lemonade. After a small chuckle, we settled on a Capri Sun.
I’m not about to tell parents where to draw the line on this issue. But, out of all my convoluted opinions, I do have a strong one. Our children may not always listen to what we say but they ALWAYS watch what we do. Having a drink while socializing may be one thing but I can’t see why a parent would want to be drunk around their child. If nothing else, a person’s ability to parent would have to be less than when he/she is sober.
Many of the children who I worked with at St. Joseph’s had problems with alcoholic parents. Perhaps that’s where my disdain truly lies. When I was growing up, I never saw my mother have a drink- let alone be drunk. It’s certainly a lasting image I’ll always keep. Please be responsible around your child no matter what your attitude is about alcohol. Here’s my final piece of advice. Make sure if you have to have your young child with you while you load up your cart in a refrigerated beer cave, be considerate and pack a sweater.
I’ll check in again with another post on Tuesday. Until then, give the kids a sober hug!