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As your child grows up, it’s easy to think that they listen more to their friends and celebrities than you. However, the reality is that you started to influence your child from day one and you remain one of your child’s biggest influencers as they develop into an adult.¹
You don’t need to tell your child about your past experiences with alcohol and drugs. It’s important to be their parent, not their friend. However, if you drink responsibly as a parent your child is more likely to do the same later in life. Modelling responsible drinking means:
Children learn about alcohol through advertising on television and on billboards. You can use these as prompts to find out how they view alcohol, and help them to analyse the tricks advertisers use. When you see a billboard advertising alcohol when you’re in the car together you could ask, ‘what is it about alcohol that the advertisements never show?’
You might also ask what they learn about alcohol at school, whether they know of children drinking, or what their friends think about alcohol. Asking these questions is a good way of checking in to see whether you need to give them any further information about alcohol and drugs, and the media (see below). They are also learning through these conversations that it’s safe to talk with you about alcohol and drugs.
Parents can worry about the influence their children’s friends might have, but a sound relationship with your own child can outweigh any negative influences from their peers.¹
You can also:
Every parent knows how hard it is to have rules that are different to the rules that other parents have. It’s a good idea to develop a relationship with other parents in your community, for example through your school, and try to develop a consistent approach where possible.
While some teenagers may experiment with alcohol and drugs out of interest, how happy they are in their family, at school and in their friendship groups influence whether they develop problems with these substances.