I’m writing today on behalf of Responsibility.org and #TalkEarly. I am honored to be an ambassador for them this year. I think you’ll understand why after reading this post. I am paid for my involvement, but all opinions are my own.
For the last week, our new family routine is to pile into our bed, all 5 of us, and watch a little bit of a movie (usually whatever Ice Age is on Netflix) before sending the kids to bed.
I typically change into my jammies, too, and sometimes I bring a glass of wine or a beer with me.
Note: Our bedroom remains untouched since moving in over a year ago.
It’s not an unusual sight for our kids. They know that beer and wine are “mommy, daddy drinks” and they respect that. It’s not they they are used to seeing us drink a 6 pack every night. It’s just not uncommon for us to have a drink in front of them in the evening.
And it’s equal parts not a big deal and a pretty big deal.
The thing is, I descend from addicts and alcoholics (not including my parents, thank goodness). At least 3 of my grandparents dealt with alcohol and drug abuse. My mom’s father died in a drunk driving accident when my mom was an infant. And I have very vivid memories of my dad’s mom drinking excessive amounts of wine in front of us quite frequently during her visits.
This was all talked about with us (my siblings and me) from a very early age. I grew up knowing how damaging alcohol can be, and I think I formed a healthy respect for it.
So on the one hand, a drink a night in front of our kids is normal, not a big deal. Mom and dad don’t get crazy, we don’t drive drunk, we make sure the kids know this isn’t something they can taste. It’s only ours for now and for a long while.
But on the other hand, it’s part of a larger narrative that will need to happen in our family. One where I pass on the stories of what’s happened to our family because of this, and how we can be susceptible to addiction. I hope that we are leading by example, that we are showing how to responsibly enjoy alcohol without abusing it.
Granted, it’s not like when I reach for a drink at night I’m doing so because I want to teach the kids a lesson, but I am mindful of how it’s perceived by them.
When Responsibility.org asked me to be a #TalkEarly ambassador, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Throughout the year I’ll be sharing a little bit about how our family is navigating this conversation with our children (who are young! 7, 5, and 2). Honestly, I’m glad to have this support and motivation to have these talks, and to share them with you all.
One thing the #TalkEarly team really wanted to be clear about was that there is no right or wrong way to handle this with our kids. Some parents choose not to drink in front of their kids at all, and some, like us, do, and use that as an example and conversation starter.
I hope, no matter what your approach is, we can have some valuable discussions this year about how “to be confident about (our) decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with (our) kids from an early age.” – Responsibility.org
I’d love to hear how you plan to talk to your kids and handle this conversation. I know so many of you have small children. Do you have a plan? Have you even thought about it? Not judging if you haven’t! I mean, we just got them sleeping through the night. It’s a lot to deal with.