I had in mind a completely different post this morning but then I saw this headline:
According to a survey carried out by Childwise for BBC’s Newsround programme out of 1,234 children aged 10 to 14 who were interviewed, half had seen their parents drunk. Half said they weren’t bothered about it, 16% said it made adults aggressive and 30% said they were scared. The article goes on to point out that the real significance in these figures is that many children weren’t bothered, that they saw being drunk as ‘normal’ that getting drunk was part of a ‘good night out’. You can read the report here.
As the daughter of an alcoholic whose relationship with her father has been damaged beyond repair. I obviously find these figures disturbing but they also made me stop and think about my own drinking.
I do drink in front of my children, they see me with a glass of wine in hand with my dinner and they see me drinking with friends at social occasions. I can honestly say that they have never seen me drunk but that they have seen me groggy in the morning on the odd occasion (though I suspect they put it down to my usual state of exhaustion as a direct result of mothering the four of them!).
I am not a violent, aggressive drunk. If I do have one too many I get giggly and over affectionate. My husband takes to stroking my legs if he’s had more than he should and chooses music the rest of us would probably not have chosen to listen to.
Drink seems to magnify elements of your personality. If you are an angry aggressive person and you get drunk, it can be very scary for children and adults around you. If you are melodramatic, over affectionate or maudlin it can be very embarrassing. A drunk adult is excruciating from a teenager’s point of view (think Dad dancing, Mum weeping or flirting) and confusing for a child.
What concerns me most about this report is that people increasingly seem to see alcohol as essential for a good night out, that children are seeing drunkenness as normal adult behaviour. Of course, this is not new as can be seen in the pages of history books but that doesn’t make it right.
It is important to me that my children feel safe and secure. That they know the boundaries and that the person in charge is consistent and reliable. I know from experience how damaging and confusing it can be if the boundaries of the adult world are blurred by alcohol and how disturbing it is when adults act irresponsibly and unreliably.
My questions to you are these:
- Is drinking in front of children acceptable?
- Is there such a thing as responsible drinking?
- Have you been drunk in front of your children and, if so, was that OK?
photo by Flickr user jawcey