There’s no doubt that children take an example from their parents. But if we assume that only the children of alcohol addicts develop that deadly habit, it will be a totally wrong assumption. Alcohol addiction is a way more complicated problem with many possible triggers. Many of them do come from family, but it’s not only the parents’ bad example of alcohol consumption. However, parents do play a significant role in planting the seeds that may later grow into a bad habit.
Children of alcoholics are more likely to develop addictions but many alcoholics come from sober and religious families. It’s not only about the problem of inheritance but more about childhood traumas of neglect, rejection, lack of unconditional love, and abuse. This can happen not only in alcoholic families which is sad but true. Nevertheless, forming an understanding of what is good and what is bad for your child is one of the most important parental tasks.
Is Alcohol Addiction Preventable?
You can’t completely prevent your child from becoming an alcoholic in the future. There are no vaccines and guarantees against it. All you can and should do is minimize the chances of such a sad life scenario. Below are important factors for bringing this risk to a minimum.
Don’t be too strict with your children
Strictness is not only about limiting their freedom and a severe system of punishment. It’s also about the emotional coldness that is painful for children. Show them your love and respect. They should know that you find them valuable, worth trust and love regardless of mistakes and poor choices they may make. These things are part of the basic feeling of safety in your children.
Don’t spoil them either
There is also another side of the coin. Pampering your children, allowing them to do anything they want and get everything they want is also a toxic pattern. Kids need to get used to the thought that sometimes you need to struggle and give an effort to receive something. Spoiling your kids prevents the development of the necessary mechanisms for survival in adult life and can end up with a breakdown. A grownup pampered kid will want to feel better with the help of easy and available self-indulgence he or she is used to.
Overprotection is toxic
It’s understandable that our world is not a friendly place and we are afraid for our children. But we need to release them into it, let them gain their own valuable experience and make their own mistakes to learn from. Children who grow up in overprotecting families have a high chance to develop addictions. Why? They get used to rely on someone else and be dependent on people who make authorities for them. In addition, some rebellious souls caged in your fear for their safety can riot and develop a habit of doing self-destructive things behind your back.
Teach your children what it really means to be an adult
Teenagers are often eager to try smoking and drinking because they believe it will make them feel grownup. Why don’t they feel like adults? Maybe they have a lack of responsible challenging tasks NOT related to their studying? Maybe they feel controlled and belittled? Give them “adult” tasks to do, maybe a little job for summer to be proud of the money they earned, don’t treat and talk to them like with small kids. Explain to them that this is what being an adult really is. Smoking and drinking are easy, everybody can do that, but achieving goals and being responsible is the next level.
Always find time to spend with your children
We know how tight the schedule of working parents could be but there’s nothing more important than your family. Your child shouldn’t be alone and bored for a long time. Even if our kids have friends, extra activities and hobbies, they still need us and our attention and time devoted to them. Even if they shout that they hate us. Even if they slam doors, don’t talk to us or throw tantrums. In such moments they need us around more desperately than ever. Often teens start drinking because they want to harm themselves to get the attention of adults who are always busy with something else.
Is It Possible to Set a Healthy Drinking Pattern?
Most experts are absolutely sure than there can be no safe doses of alcohol. Even if it’s a seemingly innocent social drinking. Even if you do it once or twice a year, alcohol is alcohol. You should realize this yourself and make your child realize it also. You should also explain to a child that we always have a choice, to drink or not to drink. It’s not a social inevitable duty, not a must to socialize. If people don’t respect your choice, this should cause concern whether they respect you at all and whether you need that sort of negativity in your life.
In addition, there is an eternal question “to ban or not to ban?” Different experts and parents have different opinions about it. Both answers to these questions have their pros and cons. Some people believe that permission for a teenager to drink alcohol is a justification of a bad habit easy to manipulate with. It’s hard to disagree with this. A glass of wine per week won’t make you a candidate for addiction treatment, but the line of a drinking problem is blurred and easy to cross.
Others think that forbidden fruits are the sweetest and the stricter your ban is, the stronger is the temptation to break it. They actually have a point too. Usually, the advocates of the “permission method” believe that it won’t be that interesting to a child to drink alcohol if they are allowed to. There are even parents who believe that their children should try their first drink in their presence to understand how they feel and their “safe dose”.
Who’s right and who’s wrong? All of them sound logical. However, the most important thing, regardless of what approach you chose, is to prevent the very desire to drink. If your child will not see drinking as something cool and innocent, there will be no need for a strict ban. This is what it really means to learn a lesson, otherwise, ban will be violated as soon as you turn away or your child grows up.