Modeling Positive Behaviors

Motherhood is a stressful job. More than one mom has joked, “Now I know why mothers drink!” But is it really a joke? Alcohol use isn’t just an I-had-a-stressful day solution. Its consumption affects safety and also conveys strong messages to your children. Alcohol is a teen drinking issue, and it becomes that long before you have teens. Make sure your alcohol use isn’t sliding into alcoholism.


In a "do as I say, not as I do" world, alcohol-related actions speak louder than words. Whether you never drink, occasionally have a few margaritas on girls night out, tend to have a single glass of quality wine with meals or drink something just about every night, your relationship with alcohol is a message to your kids. What message are you sending?

Not drinking

Not drinking at all is an absolutely valid choice, of course. But you still need to think about your relationship with alcohol. Whether you don't drink because of religious or health reasons, because you've had a problem with alcohol in the past or plain don't like it, it's still a relationship with alcohol, and it can still be problematic. Particularly if the relationship is adversarial -- if you don't believe in drinking, or have had a problem with it -- think about how you communicate that to your kids. Could you do better?

>> Is it okay to drink around my children?

Social sipping

Social drinking is very common, but what kind of social drinking do you do? Does your social sipping ever slide into binge drinking -- that is, five or more drinks on one occasion? With binge drinking among teens a continued concern (24.2% of high school students reported binge drinking in the CDC's 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior) , could your occasional drinking actually be modeling inappropriate behaviors?

Regular relaxation

If you are someone who drinks alcohol regularly as a way to "relax," is that the only way your kids see you relax? Are your kids getting the message that consuming alcohol is the only way to relax? Even if your kids never see you inebriated, and you believe you are modeling appropriate alcohol use overall, this is not exactly a healthy message.

Make sure your kids see you choosing not to drink, and for no particular reason -- such as being a designated driver -- but just because. Let your kids see you making the choice not to drink as a part of modeling behaviors.

>> Alcohol-free: A new trend in wine

Dependence - and getting help if you need it

After some honest reflection, if you suspect you might have a problem with alcohol in any way, the first step is to admit there's an issue. Then get help. Start with your doctor or medical care provider. He or she can provide resources so you can address very important issue, before it becomes a bigger family issue.

>> Alcohol and your heart: What you should know

As our children grow into adolescents, alcohol becomes a big issue. Make sure your relationship with alcohol is appropriate before trying to counsel your teen on drinking.

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Comments on "Monday Mom challenge: Check your relationship with alcohol"

Amanda October 19, 2010 | 2:00 PM

I agree that this is *very* important. My father-in-law has issues with alcohol, and it worries me the message that will get sent to my children as they grow up. He is a man who uses alcohol to relax, and although I have never seen him drunk, he drinks a lot. On top of that he is on medications that he is not supposed to mix with alcohol (medications like morphine). When my children are old enough to start understanding alcohol and that while it can be enjoyable it can also be dangerous, I will be talking with them for sure. I want them to understand that an occasional drink or two is okay, but you shouldn't need to have a drink to relax and you shouldn't *need* to have a drink at all. One drink a week does not make you an alcohol, but if you *have* to have that drink, then you have a problem.

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