In case you didn’t know, April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. As my kids get older, I’ve become much more invested in reevaluating my perspective on drinking and the examples I’m currently setting for my kids. Responsibility.org has been my lifeline of resources and education on a myriad of topics associated with drinking.
An important message to send is that it doesn’t have to be a black-and-white approach—drink or don’t drink. I enjoy having a cocktail on date nights or celebrating with friends over wine. The difference is that it doesn’t consume my life, it’s not a set part of my routine. I’ve been sharing my life on social media for a long time, and the societal and cultural expectations to drink to compensate for a bad day are everywhere. So this month, I want to challenge those notions and set a better example for my kids.
The Social Standard
We’ve all seen the memes on Instagram and Pinterest—”Wine Not,” “Rose All Day,” “Mommy Juice,” etc. I admit I’ve identified with them in the past. After a hard day or busy day running around doing everything for my kids, sometimes I want to pour myself a big drink and tune out for a bit. I think over time there’s been a slow but steady realization that the “Mommy needs a drink” memo is more harmful than it is humorful. While it may be intended to just be a funny meme, these messages can make an impact on our kids’ perceptions of alcohol and drinking. Honestly, it’s made an impact on me, too!
Changing the Narrative
I think it’s an important distinction to say that it’s not about the drink, but the message it perpetuates. The “needs alcohol” culture makes light of deeper feelings and situations. At the root of it, a cocktail or two can be traced back to a frustrating day or feeling upset. Instead of facing those emotions or finding healthy ways to cope, a drink can become the bandaid. It was eye-opening for me to realize that! Anyone find themselves in the same position?
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Start With a Conversation
Communication is one of the core principles in the Schaffer household. And just as I expect and hope my kids will talk to me, I want to hold myself to the same standard. Instead of turning to the drinking trope, what if we instead had a conversation about what parents do need? I think it’s important to recognize and express we’re not superhuman. Because parents are people. Sometimes we have bad days.
I encourage all of us to have that conversation with our kids and let them know what we need on those days. Maybe it’s a day off, carving out time for self-care, going outside for a long walk. Whatever it is, let’s set the example for how to handle stressful days in a healthy way. Leading by example is one of the best ways for our kids to learn. Of course, we’re not perfect, but let’s make a difference where and when we can!
As always, Responsibility.org has been my go-to for all of these kinds of conversations. The website is stocked with free resources for parents with kids as young as 6 years old all the way through college-age kids. There’s such a wide range of articles and topics on how to build a lifetime of conversations with our kids about alcohol responsibility. It starts at home and it starts with us.
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