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Parenting and Alcohol Use

May 13, 2015 by HealthyFamilies BC

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When it comes to using alcohol, demonstrating healthy attitudes towards alcohol by drinking in moderation and in low risk ways inside the home can ensure your children get proper care. This can also help them develop healthier relationships with alcohol later in life.

What is Low Risk Drinking?

Based on Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, men are advised to drink no more than three drinks and women no more than two on most occasions. On a weekly basis, it’s suggested men have no more than 15 drinks and women no more than 10. But keep in mind, these are in normal circumstances - it is clear that drinking should be avoided or greatly reduced when you are responsible for the safety of others.

Parents have the strongest influence on kids when it comes to many things, including drinking alcohol. Setting a good example helps protect them from making unhealthy choices as they grow. Learn more about setting a good example.

How Alcohol Can Affect Parenting

Chances are you’re familiar with the effects of impairment from alcohol: reduced attention and coordination, impaired judgment, drowsiness, and in some people, even aggressiveness. All of these can affect the daily skills required for good parenting. Routine tasks like cleaning, preparing meals, supervising children, helping with homework, and ensuring a reasonable standard of hygiene may be put off or forgotten if you’re intoxicated or hung-over. And your ability to meet your children's emotional needs by giving attention and playing can also be reduced. In some cases, drinking may even place children in harmful or dangerous situations.

Impairment from alcohol can also cause inconsistencies in parenting practices. For example, parents may be controlling and strict some of the time, and overly allowing at other times. They may yell more often, become irritable and inattentive, and give children too much responsibility while intoxicated or hung-over.

If you do drink alcohol, no matter how much, reflect on your own habits once in a while. Next time you are having a drink, be sure to pay attention to whether or not your drinking is causing even minor impairment. Such self-awareness and monitoring can help make sure your child stays safe and also help kids develop a healthier relationship with alcohol later in life.

If you think you may have a problem with your drinking, individual, family, and small group counselling is available to people of all ages who are affected by alcohol and other drug use. Call the 24-hour BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service toll-free at 1-800-663-1441.

Author’s Bio: Today’s blog is written by Gerald Thomas. Gerald is a Director at the Ministry of Health where he works to bring about a culture of moderation with regards to alcohol in B.C. He lives in Vancouver and in his free time enjoys camping, hiking and mountain biking.

Related blogs

Setting a Good Example for Your Teens

Recommended resources

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse: Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
Australian Institute of Family Studies: An overview of alcohol misuse and parenting
British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health: Mothering and Substance Use: Approaches to Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Treatment

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