This year I've partnered with Responsibility.org as one of their #TalkEarly bloggers. I was very excited when Responsibility.org asked me to join them, because now that my kids are getting older―Gomer is 10 and Adolpha is 8―we're talking more and more about the pressures they're already starting to face with regards to alcohol. I'm amazed by how many questions they're asking me!
“Why do people drink alcohol?”
“Why is it only for adults?”
“What does it taste like?”
“Can't I just try it?”
“My friend gets wine at Christmas, can I have some?”
And on and on and on. Luckily, by teaming up with Responsibility.org and the #TalkEarly program I'm going to learn a lot and I'll be able to answer those questions. This experience will also give me the tools I need to have great conversations with my kids about ALL OF US making good choices when it comes to drinking responsibly. April is Alcohol Responsibility Month and so now is the perfect time to start having some conversations with your kids.
One of the conversations I want to have is why I choose to drink alcohol.
In January, Responsibility.org held a Summit in Washington D.C. and invited the #TalkEarly bloggers to attend. We had a very interesting meeting with Gabrielle Glaser, the author of Her Best-Kept Secret. Gabrielle has done a lot of research on alcohol consumption and the statistics show that more and more women are drinking these days. But Gabrielle wanted to know WHY they're drinking. One of the things she found really stood out to me. She has determined that women are drinking more as a way to alleviate stressors in their lives and they're sending that message to their kids.
Hard day taking care of a toddler? Turn on Dora the Explorer, open that bottle of wine at three-thirty and call it a day.
It's homework time and third grade math is harder than you remember tenth grade math being? Crack a beer and try Google.
Teenager wrecked the car? It was a brand new car and she could have been killed!! Mother―!! Better hit the hard stuff.
Boss was a total asshole today? That calls for two bottles of wine AND a bubble bath.
I'm not a big drinker, but I've been known to partake. I always enjoy celebrating a milestone or two in my life with some sort of freezy and fruity beverage (don't judge me because I like girlie drinks) or sometimes I just like a cold beer on a warm day.
I listened to Gabrielle and I realized that although these are fine times to imbibe, I've totally used alcohol as a stress-reliever. I've texted friends to say, “OH EM GEE! What a hellish day! Adolpha won't stop hitting Gomer and Gomer won't stop whining and the Hubs thinks yelling at everyone (including me) is helping. I know what will help! Want to get a drink tonight? I could really use a drink.”
“I could really use a drink.”
How often have we all said that?
Have you ever said it in front of your kids? What sort of message is that sending them? They drive us to drink? Literally?
I know we all joke around and complain about our kids driving us to do all sorts of things, but eventually they catch on. Eventually they understand what we're talking about when we sigh heavily at four o'clock and bust out a bottle (or two) of wine. They know they're the culprit.
Would you ever tell your daughter, "See these stretch marks, saggy boobs, and don't even get me started on my mangled vagina? YOU did that."
You would never tell your son, "Between the braces on your teeth and those boats you call feet that are constantly outgrowing designer sneakers, I'm going to be bankrupt soon. Thanks a lot, kid."
So why would we tell our kids that they make us want to drink?
I know what you're saying: "But I don't tell my kids they drive me to drink. You didn't either, Jen. You texted your friend. Your kids have no idea!" Yes they do. Kids are smart. They watch us all the time and learn from our behavior. They feel our stress and our anxiety and they see what we do to relieve it. Some of us take a walk or a run (not me, I'm only running if someone with a knife is chasing me). Some of us go shopping (I could stress-shop for new cargo pants all day long). Some of us read books (I could totally recommend some funny ones if you're interested). Some of us talk to our doctors and get recommended medication. Some of us pour some "Mommy Juice" into an insulated coffee cup (that isn't fooling anyone, BTW) and gulp down liquid sanity all while praying Please God, make bedtime come faster.
I'm not calling you a bad mother. I'm not calling me a bad mother. I'm simply pointing out something that we all do and I'm saying that we need to be aware of our actions and try to change them. We need to be responsible with our choices and our actions. Our kids are always watching us and they're always learning from our behavior. I don't want my daughter to think that a long day wrangling kids must be ended with a cocktail on the playground―and I bet you don't either.
Have you ever talked to your kids about why you drink alcohol? How did that go?
As a member of the #TalkEarly blogger team, this post is part of a campaign sponsored by Responsibility.org. I thank them for bringing Gabrielle Glaser to speak with us. All opinions are always my own.