Your plane tickets are booked; the hotel reservations are made; suitcases are brought out of storage, and the packing begins.
With all this intercession prep, why not pack some healthy parenting attitudes and strategies as well?
Whether or not you are going away or setting the stage for a wonderful staycation, this is a time when your children will be spending many hours with you – gathering fresh data on how to emulate their most important role models.
So, if one of the things you are looking forward to is sitting back on a lounge chair on the beach sipping strawberry daiquiris, it is best to understand what they might be thinking when you are drinking.
THEY THINK IT IS TONS OF FUN: Pretty bottles, Colorful drinks, slices of lemon wedges sitting on the sides of glasses, busy bars and bartenders, smiling faces and everyone holding a drink- cheers! Looks like everyone believes that having fun must include having a drink of alcohol, or two, or three, or more…
What to do: Make sure your children witness you having drink-free, drunk-free, fun times. Partake in activities both in the day and night that do not include drinking alcohol.
THEY THINK IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO REALLY RELAX: They see you and your friends, each with a drink in your hands. They hear you say, “I need a drink.” They see you order a scotch on the rocks when stressed. They see the immediate difference in your behavior as you do indeed loosen up after a drink or two.
What to do: Make sure your children know that you depend on other activities for stress-release. Tell them how the jog you took that morning on the beach helped clear your mind; how listening to the music on your headphones relaxed you so; how spending time with them makes you happy.
THEY SEE NO HARM. The smiles may be apparent, but often, the problems associated with drinking are kept under wraps. Therefore, it makes sense that they are unaware of the dangers and ills associated with alcoholism.
What to do:
- Whether you drink alcohol or not, speak to them about the damaging effects of too much alcohol on one’s mental state and relationships; on the liver, the skin, and on one’s overall health.
- Tell them that when drunk, one’s inhibitions are loosened and many times, people do things after a few drinks that they come to regret. Explain that often, the damage is irreversible. Site stories and stats of drunken driving accidents; falls, damaged or lost valuables, mistakes made, and sullied reputations.
- Acknowledge that while drinking can relax a person, people often use this form of relaxation instead of dealing with their problems head-on. Tell them how this approach leads to unresolved issues which only grow worse with the lack of proper attention.
- Open their eyes to the very real possibility of alcohol dependence. Share with them stories of people you know who became alcoholics; about their stays in rehab, and how their lives were negatively impacted by the disease of alcoholism.
- Most of all, tell your children that you want them to lead the most healthy, productive lives possible, so they should be alert and careful with their health. Your words, as well as your behaviors, go a long way.
Have a wonderful time!