Perhaps there’s an old photo album at your parent’s place, where there’s a picture of a you lifting a ‘stubbie’ – a bottle of beer – say, on the dock of a friend’s cottage, in the 1960’s or 70’s. Or perhaps there’s a feint memory of your first sip of wine from your mom’s glass.
The rules were different then. It was amusing, maybe, when a small child saw an adult drinking booze and wanted to copy that behaviour. We all learn from what we see.
And look at the habits we’ve carried on, all these years later.
Surely, as adults we are responsible for our actions and choices. But for myself, my parents were responsible for normalizing alcohol in my formative years. As I did, perhaps you learned to associate booze with laughter and good times. Perhaps you also learned that booze causes certain problems and makes others worse. Alcohol has all those attributes, good and bad, and over our history I suspect we’ve learned that those things come as a group, indelibly together.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail highlights the tricky relationship between children, parents and alcohol – discussing both its distinct allure, and how difficult it is to frame how young people perceive drinking. As the author explores, if we normalize alcohol, children learn that it’s status quo, a staple, a given. But if we keep alcohol entirely at a distance, then children may glorify it as forbidden fruit.
What’s important to understand is that alcohol is damaging to a developing brain. If we can use some kind of psychology to delay experimentation, or reduce consumption, then we’re working to protect our young people as a society, and as parents.