Every time a young college student or an adult goes out nowadays, it’s to a bar or to a disco to have a drink. The same can be said of most adults since drinking is the most common social activity for most adults. Estimates put it that alcohol is regularly consumed by 60% of the developed world. It is considered acceptable and even expected for an adult to order an alcohol before the start of any meal in Europe.
This is a well debated topic which is discussed in many stories across the world even dating back to over 2000 years ago. The negative impacts of drinking are showcased so clearly in the shot story the blue hotel by Charles. W. Chestnutt.
However the moral quandary comes when it comes to drinking in front of young children. Scientists say that this will definitely have negative consequences on their development and to their long term well-being. While there are several obvious reasons as to why parents should never drink in front of their children, in this article, we will explore some of the most significant ones.
- Alcohol can change your behaviour
The ingestion of alcohol can have a significant impact on one’s behaviour. Your voice can slur, you can speak words which you are not supposed to, impaired coordination, behave illogically and irrationally and the list goes on. Remember that children are highly impressionable and displaying behaviours which is not age worthy for children might seem funny but you may not want them to emulate it. A psychological angle is that it can be confusing and scary for children which results in long term social effects on their behaviour.
- Build up negative associations with alcohol
Children are very inquisitive and perceptive. Children are very attentive and can pick up on very subtle cues and attitudes towards alcohol. A parent who drinks regularly in front of their child results in the child developing a normalized attitude towards drinking alcohol. Many associate relieving stress with drinking and end up believing that this is an acceptable way to deal with excessive stress or negative emotions. Thus this will lead to the child being more likely to engage in risky drinking behaviours.
- Parenting effectively becomes difficult
Any parent knows that the art of parenting requires great patience, attention to the child’s needs, and the ability to make clear-headed decisions. Explaining something to a child without thought can result in misrepresentation of information and will be hard to change for a child. Alcohol can impair all logical reasoning abilities of the parent thus making it more challenging to be a good parent.
You might reason or deal with situations in ways which are not good for a child to learn. Children are always watching and learning from the parent’s behaviour and even more so when you are not actively engaging with them since they wish to emulate adults.
The impact of parenting on a child has long been discussed in the literary and psychological circles and it is most famously depicted in the short story Rappaccinis daughter authored by the great Nathaniel Hawthorne.
- Learning unhealthy coping mechanisms
Drinking in front of your children when stressed or when in anger or frustration will send a strong message to the child that this is how one must cope with stress or mental duress. What’s worse is that it can also send the message to the child that drinking is the acceptable way and the only way to cope with stress or any form of negative emotions. This leads to the child getting into a vicious cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Children end up turning to alcohol when dealing with difficult situations. While they are supposed to learn from parents to develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress like exercise or talking to a trusted adult, they take to alcohol.
- Stepping stone to drugs
Most drug addicts start off with alcohol at a very young age when reasoning is skewed and the dangers of the world and the dangers of addiction are unknown to the child. They end up drinking and experimenting with higher quantities of alcohol and since it has no social barrier, they experiment with other substances such as drugs. This leads to a vicious cycle from which recovery is a long road of pain and suffering.
- It can lead to dangerous consequences
Drinking in front of your children can be physically dangerous, particularly when you drink too much. If one becomes intoxicated, judgment is impaired, leading to accidents and injuries. It is essential for the parent to always be fully present and able to respond to their child’s needs.
- Inability to have fun without alcohol
One of the interesting experiments in social psychology identified that children associate alcohol with good memories since their parents always drink in front of them. It becomes “apparent” to them at a very young age that in social gatherings and when having a good time, adults must ingest alcohol and vice versa. It is not thought of as a one way street and hence they associate happiness with alcohol and hence this results in learning a forced behaviour of being happy only when alcohol is present.
In conclusion, drinking in front of one’s children can have numerous negative physical as well as mental consequences on development and well-being. AS a responsible parent, one must exhibit healthy behaviours and attitudes in front of their child to model and this includes towards alcohol. By being mindful of one’s drinking habits in front of one’s children, one can successfully create a positive and healthy environment that supports the child’s growth and development.