During the past year, two things have shifted my approach to -- and consumption of -- alcohol: 1) learning about (and later becoming part of) Responsibility.org’s #TalkEarly program (which educates about responsible consumption + sending positive messages to kids); and 2) the strange reality that some of Laurel’s friends have started following me on social media. April is Alcohol Responsibility Month and I want to share some thoughts about alcohol + social media as it relates to kids. I'd also love to hear your perspective on this topic.
At the #TalkEarly summit in January, Gabrielle Glaser spoke about her research on women and alcohol. Glaser, author of Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink & How They Can Regain Control, is smart, passionate, and totally NOT against enjoying a glass of wine with dinner. She is, however, concerned by her findings that: 1) American women are drinking more often and in greater quantity than ever before; 2) moms are very much part of this equation (i.e., it’s not just the single, clubbing ladies); and 3) the way parents refer to alcohol as a stress release valve sends troubling messages to kids.
To Glaser's third point, I didn’t used to pay much attention to the wine/mom memes floating around; it’s just not where my humor tends to play out. But as I’ve been thinking about Responsibilty.org’s work, and now that I’m in the zone where it’s not uncommon for Laurel to notice what I’m viewing on social or for her friends to see what I’m posting, I now cringe when I see graphics like these being shared around:
I'm not humorless; I get the angle! But why do these make me cringe? Because I grew up in a home that was regularly in a state of crisis due to alcoholism -- where seeing another glass filled and raised filled me with anxiety (and invariably led to something bad happening). And because I can imagine how hurt my sweet, sensitive Laurel would be if she saw that last graphic especially. Thinking about that actually makes me want to cry right now. I mean, yes, parenting is crazy hard sometimes, but that last graphic stings, right? Stand in your kids shoes and imagine someone you love and trust saying that the only way they can stand being around you is when they've got a couple of drinks in them. Ouch.
I’m curious about how you respond to these kinds of graphics, and also how you reference alcohol around your kids -- please feel free to share in the comments below. The main ways my behavior has changed since I started thinking about this stuff last year is: 1) I’ve become more mindful about consumption. If I’ve had a stressful day, instead of reflexively turning towards a glass of wine, I think about whether that is actually what I want or whether there’s something that would feel better. 2) I don’t talk about alcohol in front of Laurel and Violet in stress-release terms. 3) When I share on social media (Instagram is where Laurel’s friends are following in particular), I’m mindful about what and how I’m sharing, alcohol-related or otherwise.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure during this wild parenting ride, it’s that kids see and hear EVERYTHING. And during the formative years, they take your words at face value.
Image credits: 1) Responsibility.org; 2-4) someecards.com via linked sources above
Disclosure: This post was inpsired by my work as part of Responsibility.org's #TalkEarly program. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.