One of the most difficult parts of parenting is knowing when you need to sit down with your children to discuss adult matters—and then actually doing it. But new information from health officials might make it even harder, as they are now suggesting parents should talk to their children about alcohol as early as nine years old.
Indeed, Miami pediatrician Dr. Lorena Siqueira notes, “Surveys indicate that children start to think positively about alcohol between ages 9 and 13 years. The more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, and if they are already drinking, this exposure leads them to drink more.”
She adds, “Therefore, it is very important to start talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years of age.”
Furthermore, Siqueira warns, “The top three causes of mortality in teenagers are motor vehicle accidents, homicides and suicides, and alcohol is strongly associated with each of these.”
In addition, University of California (SF) professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Bennett Leventhal notes, “We spend a lot of time worrying about all manner of substance abuse, and we should, but this report brings home that the most commonly abused and dangerous drug for children is alcohol.”
“As parents we all need to own it, that if we aren’t the ones talking to our children and informing their views, then someone else is going to do it,” advises Partnership for Drug-Free Kids president and CEO Marcia Lee Taylor.
Siqueira, who is also a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse, “Therefore, it is very important to start talking to children about the dangers of drinking as early as 9 years of age.”
It is not easy, but parenting often isn’t.