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Your kids are watching what you do

Your kids are watching what you do – 12 tips for Christmas

Children are great copycats. They observe what adults or older teens are doing – and do the same. The Alcohol Advisory Council has come up with a selection of pointers to help you think about how your children see you handling alcohol in the hectic run up till Christmas.

What your kids see

“Mummy, do you need a drink tonight?” True to life question from one observant six year old we know. In the lead up to Christmas and during the summer holidays, managing work and home life can get hectic. So what do you model when you get home? Do you walk in the door, sigh deeply, mutter to your partner about how bad your day was as you open the fridge to get a bottle? Stop and think what that teaches your children. Instead, teach them by your actions alcohol may be for recreation but not for coping.

Demonstrate responsible drinking

Many New Zealanders enjoy a drink or two. How about showing your youngsters how to be moderate – that you don’t have to finish the bottle when you’re drinking just because it’s there? Know your limit and when you’ve reached it, stick the cork back on the bottle. Let your children see you tip the dregs down the sink instead of draining the can or bottle. (Christmas present idea: buy one of those glass bottle stoppers.)

What traditions are you creating?

Researchers say that one of the things that helps children be resilient in life, no matter their background, is that their parents have set up some good family traditions – for example, having meals together. These give youngsters a sense of belonging and identity. Have a think about what sort of Christmas traditions you’re creating for your children to remember. What are the traditions at your place – too much booze, family fights? Do a bit of planning this year and don’t let alcohol ruin a family time.

You can’t have a holiday from parenting!

If there’s going to be a lot of people partying over Christmas at your place, think about what the kids will be doing, where they’ll be – and what they might be watching. Who is looking out for them? Your job as a parent doesn’t stop just because it’s a holiday from work and school. It’s easy to relax the boundaries but not easy to fix it when things go wrong.

Make boundaries

If Christmas is one of those special occasions when your young teenager is allowed to drink, agree on a limit before the event. If there are several families holidaying or celebrating together, it might be useful to try to agree on rules for all the teenagers. Don’t feel pressured, though, to let your teenager drink if you have a rule they don’t drink before they’re a certain age. Talk with your teenager about good practices around drinking.

Know the law

If you’re not the parent or legal guardian of a young person, don’t supply them with alcohol. It’s against the law.

Do they think hangovers are OK?

Last year you were busy partying in the nights up to Christmas. The children heard it was a great night, but your head hurts? You were too hung over to watch them get into their presents? Make a new resolution for this season. This year, tell yourself, don’t wreck it for the kids, and don’t have them think hangovers go hand in hand with a good night. They will remember that when they are teenagers.

Are you validating drunken behaviour?

When your ‘outlaws’ come for Christmas and an aunty or uncle is the one who always gets plastered, do you excuse it to the kids, tell them ‘oh, they’re just a bit merry’? Remember your kids are not stupid. Be honest around them about the effects of alcohol.


Think about ways to de-stress over the Christmas period without turning to alcohol. Plan ahead. Divide up the jobs, get other relatives involved and share the load. Get outdoors and get active.

Have fun all day

For many people, Christmas means travelling between relatives’ homes for two or three separate meals. Be aware of the risks of drink driving or having other accidents – nominate a sober driver, and go easy yourself so you can enjoy the last celebration as much as the first.

Think about the cost

The liquor stores might be dropping their prices before Christmas – but before you rush out to stock up, think about how much money will end up as empties in your recycling bin. (Would you want your kids to see all those empties when it’s their turn to take the bins out?)


And remember to go easy on the beer being left out for Santa! If Father Christmas had a bottle of beer at every house he went to, think about the drink driving problems (Okay, so we’re joking here.)

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