I can hear the words clear as day! My dad telling me – on my way to the mall, to camp, to college, to the movies – “Have fun and be careful!” Of course to a kid/teen those words go in one ear and out the other (my now-parent self is cringing at that reality) but now that I have kids of my own, I realize just how profound that statement is.
On this blog my slogan is ‘Life IS the Party’, and it’s because I’m an ardent proponent of celebrating everyday. Whether it’s by having a picnic in the backyard or turning the music way up in the car and seat dancing at the stoplights, it’s so important to enjoy our days. The unspoken sentiment however is that when we live it up, we do it smartly and while respecting boundaries.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of The Century Council – a national independent and not-for-profit funded by distillers and meant to fight drunk driving and underage drinking. I was invited to partner with the Council to encourage parents to model healthy behavior when it comes to alcohol consumption and to empower them to talk early with their kids about drinking. I spent the day with 7 other blogger friends learning about the Council’s work and also hearing from parenting and education experts. Here are some highlights:
Dr. Tony Wolf, author of: “Get out of my life but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the Mall, A Parents’ Guide to the New Teenager” (don’t you love that title?) gave us some very practical strategies for talking with our tweens and teens about drinking. He shared that 11% of 8th graders drink alcohol! A stunning statistic for me to hear. Two pieces of advice from Dr. Wolf that stayed with me: (1) Be genuine in my conversations with my 9-year-old – they can detect phoniness a mile away; and (2) Be conscious of my own drinking behavior.
And, education reform advocate Lisa Graham Keegan, shared that she tells her kids: “Value yourself so that you don’t lie to yourself” when they’re forced to make hard decisions in the face of peer pressure. I thought that was brilliant.
The conversations were so meaningful to me because my daughters – 7 and 9 – are of the age where they notice (and pay attention?) to when my husband and I, and our peers, are drinking alcohol. I find myself already being more mindful of when I choose to have a glass of wine or a cocktail and how I ‘position’ it (perhaps the communications professional in me coming out!) We wrapped up our day at The Century Council by shooting video of our parenting ‘Words of Wisdom’ – you can already guess what mine are!
I’d love to know yours.
This post is sponsored by The Century Council as part of my partnership with them. Over the next few months, you’ll see installments from me on this topic as I share my journey to grow and learn how to #TalkEarly with my kids about drinking. Hopefully it goes without saying, but all opinions are my own. To join in the conversation – and I’d love for you to – follow @TalkEarly on Twitter, follow them on Pinterest and learn more about the initiative on their website.