Alcohol & Our Kids
In Episode 49 of “Breaking the Bottle Legacy”, Molly introduces a January small group program called Proof Positive. Addressing a concerned parent’s inquiry about his daughter’s curiosity regarding alcohol as she approaches legal drinking age, Molly emphasizes the need for improved alcohol education, stressing the significance of parental influence and open communication with adolescents. She discusses the extended period it takes for the human brain to develop fully and advocates for ongoing, fact-based discussions about alcohol rather than a singular “big talk.” Molly underscores the importance of modeling healthy living and provides valuable insights on approaching the topic of alcohol with children, emphasizing facts, neuroscience, and science-backed information.
You’re listening to breaking the bottle legacy with Molly watts, Episode 49. Hi, I’m Molly, after a lifetime living under the influence of family alcohol abuse, spending more than 30 years worrying about alcohol and my own drinking, believing I had an unbreakable daily drinking habit, I changed my relationship with alcohol forever. If you want to change your drinking habits than breaking the bottle legacy is for you. My goal is to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, past, present, and future. Each week all focus on real science and using your own brain to change your relationship with alcohol. Nothing has gone wrong, you’re not broken, you’re not sick. It’s not your genes. And creating peace is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello, and welcome or welcome back to breaking the bottle legacy. With me, your host, Molly Watts coming to you from well, it looks to be a fairly sunny Oregon today. It was raining cats and dogs yesterday, but right now looks pretty dry outside. And I’m going to hope it was really warm yesterday. I’m going to keep hoping that the warm streak continues. Because for those of you that listened to last week’s podcast, you know that my furnace went out and my furnace is still out. So we have created what we call the igloo in our house. It’s a little area where we’ve got things blocked off so that we can keep the heat and we’ve got a little space heater. And so the igloo is actually very cozy. And that’s all right. But if it gets real cold again, things may not be quite so nice. So I’m going to hope for some continued sunshine around here. So happy December. By the way, this episode is dropping on December 1. I hope you had for those of you that celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was wonderful. I hope you’re looking forward to a nice holiday season. Upcoming no matter where you are in the world. We have a prize winner this week. And I we had a prize winner last week too. But it was really from the week before. So we’re on schedule again today. And this week’s winner is Andy from the UK. Andy, I know you well from being in the group, and I will email you directly. If you want to be a prize winner and get some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you need to do is go on to Amazon and leave a review of the book if you’ve already done if you’ve read it or got it or you can go wherever you listen to the podcast if you go on and listen, go on and listen. Go on and leave a review on wherever you listen to this podcast. And then let me know your your reviewer name either by email or DM, you will be entered to leaving a review of the podcast is really important because it helps people find us It helps me grow in terms of organic reach. And so if you are getting anything out of this or if you’ve gotten anything out of this, if you would take two seconds and go put a review on whatever podcast platform you listen to, I would greatly appreciate it and you’ll be entered to win. So there you go. Last week I previewed proof positive my January small group that will be doing two complimentary programs to kick off 2022. And if you want to start the new year feeling positive, you will definitely want to listen in on how this is going to work. If you’re not interested in an alcohol free month or upgrading your nutrition, then just hit that skip ahead on your podcast player to get to this week’s episode, which is another in my alcohol and series. This one is called alcohol and our kids. This episode was actually requested from one of my YouTube subscribers, Kevin, who wrote this. Hello Molly. I love and appreciate the work you put into your podcasts. A subject I have not yet seen discussed is how to talk to your kids about alcohol. My son is 20 and so far so good as he displays little interest. My daughter, on the other hand is about to turn 18 the drinking age in my province, and I know she is curious about alcohol, but I’m certain that she has not yet quote unquote experimented with it. If he would be so kind to address this topic that would be great. I have considered given that giving them each copies of William Porter’s alcohol explained. Sincerely an appreciative fan. Kevin, thank you for subscribing, listening and obviously being a very caring and concerned parent and I hope that You’ll appreciate my thoughts on this subject. I want to say even if you don’t have kids, I think this really boils down to how we can improve alcohol education as a whole. And how we talk about alcohol in general. Most of us have a lot of room for improvement on cleaning up our own thoughts around alcohol, and making sure that our actions reflect those thoughts. Whether it’s your kids, or really anyone who you might talk to about alcohol, friends or other family, we don’t want to be hypocritical, we don’t want to tell people how bad alcohol is for them, or that they can’t drink alcohol because it’s illegal for them like kids, right? And then keep on with our own unhealthy drinking habits. So more on that in just a minute. But first, if you like me want to kick off 2022 in an extra healthy positive way, then here’s what you need to know about proof positive, my small group that’s happening in January. So step one is to sign up for dry you weary officially through moderation management at WWW dot dry you weary.org. The link is in my show notes as well, but head on over to dry your weary.org and get signed up for the best alcohol free month long program, which is entirely free, as in NO dollars required. It’s International. It’s super supportive, and it might be truly transformative for you. It really was for me, step two. So step one, dry you weary step two, is to sign up for the 30 day nutrition upgrade with Monica Rai Nagel using my exclusive discount code, Molly 20. That’s Molly M, O ll y, and then the number to zero. With that code, you get 20% off of an already low price of $49. So you’ll pay less than $40 for this month long program designed by a licensed nutritionist to simply improve your habits from wherever you are right now to being better. The 30 Day nutrition nutrition upgrade isn’t a diet or detox. It’s a simple but powerful program that builds your awareness and helps you make healthier choices every day. This program is based in science, which of course you know, I love and it’s non restrictive, there’s no forbidden foods. And it’s an easy framework to add better nutrition to your life. There’s a smartphone app that makes it super easy to participate. But more importantly, there is ongoing group support and you have access to Monica as a resource all month long. Monica has a master’s in human nutrition. She is the host of the nutrition diva podcast. She’s a co host of the change Academy podcast. She’s an author, a weight loss coach, and a trained chef. So she’s simply a total expert when it comes to changing your eating habits. So what you want to do is you want to head over to www dot nutrition over easy.com backslash upgrade, that’s nutrition over easy.com backslash upgrade, I of course will link that in the show notes. And when you go there to register, you want to use my special discount code mali 20. And you will get the whole month long program for $39. When you do that, you will automatically be enrolled when you do both right. So you’ve gone to draw you where you’ve registered there, you’ve gone to Monica’s program and you’ve registered there. When you do that you will be automatically enrolled in the proof positive small group that I will be leading for anyone who is doing both programs, you will get daily texts from me and weekly coaching group collaborations to keep you inspired. I’m going to be doing all the same work sticking to the alcohol free month and upgrading my nutrition game. So we will keep each other accountable. And it’s going to be just a great month. So I hope you will join me. All right on to this week’s episode, alcohol and our kids. So as with everything in this podcast, I’ll remind you that what I’m sharing here is informational and not intended to replace professional advice. I am not a child psychologist nor a parenting expert. So I will only tell you that these are my thoughts born out of the work and research I’ve done while changing my own relationship with alcohol. I wish that I had used what I’m going to share here with my own kids earlier, but even now as young adults of legal drinking age. This conversation is the one I believe we should be having about alcohol, with our kids, with our peers with our family members, with whoever need to hear it This is such an important topic because really whether you have children or not, as a society, we have a responsibility for educating our children about alcohol. And because you once were a child, perhaps like me, who grew up with an alcoholic parent, or maybe you grew up with teetotallers, it’s important to figure out some of the lessons you learned about alcohol, what you were or weren’t told about alcohol, and what you learned, regardless of what you were told or not told. I think that is actually an important point to start with. One of the most influential factors during a child’s adolescence is maintaining a strong open relationship with a parent. When parents create supportive and nurturing environments, children make better decisions. Though it may not always seem like it children hear their parents concerns, which is why it’s important that parents have their own conversations about alcohol. We learn about alcohol through different channels with different lenses. And the messages we receive are contradictory and confusing. As a child, we’re simultaneously taught that alcohol is illegal until you reach a certain age. But we’re seeing advertisements that make alcohol drinks look like beverages any would want anyone would want to drink Hard Lemonade, hard root beer, why wouldn’t a child be curious about alcohol after seeing all these products? And so I think that’s the thing. It’s it’s important to be having conversations, right? It’s important to be having conversations. And those conversations need to start early. We need to we should expect that our children are going to be curious about grown up behavior, especially anything that is restricted restricted by law, or religion or anything else. Along with alcohol, we put restrictions on things like smoking, driving, gambling, voting and sex. Right? The restrictions exist, because we know that children’s brains aren’t fully developed. I kind of went down a sidetrack here because I wanted to look about look at this about the difference between the legal age. And there’s there’s quite a bit of controversy about this, it seems because, of course, adults are we’re deemed legal adults at the age of 18, at least here in the United States. And research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, although these rates can vary among men and women and among individuals, and the human brain, matures in size during adolescence. But important developments, especially within the prefrontal cortex, and other regions take place well into one’s 20s. And of course, we know that the prefrontal cortex is where all of our logical, goal oriented, things that are not impulsive and not a part of the reward center, all of that kind of thinking and higher level of executive function takes place in the prefrontal cortex. So that’s not even developing until until our 20s, fully developed until our 20s. I really think that behavioral neuroscience and cognitive behavioral therapy should be absolutely required, both in high school and in college. We don’t need to call it all, you know, big fancy words, but we should be passionate about teaching humans about their own human brains. So anyways, I digress back to talking to our kids about alcohol. I grew up in a household where there wasn’t a lot of conversation happening. I think it was fairly typical of my parents generation. They set the rules and we the kids followed them or didn’t. But the reason behind the rule was most generally because I said so. My parents were part of the silent generation. And according to family education.com, the silent generation was known for working within the system rather than fighting the system. They parented quietly, and without doing anything that called attention to them. They kept their heads down and did what they had to do. They are known for becoming parents at the youngest ages of all generations. So they married and gave birth as young adults, definitely true. They were also in the generation that popularized divorce. And there were many divorces seen in this generation. Many of the silence raised their children to be seen and not heard. So I don’t know about you, but that’s was definitely true for me in my house because my mother developed a drinking problem. When I was in elementary school that was firmly ingrained by the time I was in junior high. There wasn’t any open conversation of about alcohol happening with my parents. Because my dad was the superintendent of schools, I was pretty much expected to be a good kid and follow the rules, which in large part I did. Though, I also tried drinking alcohol fairly early. And on those occasions, I over drank substantially to the point where I threw up and, and, and on at least one occasion passed out. My behavior wasn’t extraordinary. And most of my friends had similar experiences along the way, as we all tested our limits. We didn’t get into any major trouble, and our parents were none the wiser, or at least or if they were they simply wrote it off to kids being kids. I never remember having a conversation about alcohol with my parents before my father addressed, quote, unquote, mom’s little problem with me in high school, would it have changed my choices as a teen? I don’t know, I certainly didn’t see my drinking as an issue then? Or did I during college or really for decades to follow? In, and I guess it’s more the idea that, you know, I just didn’t have a very open and communicative relationship with my parents, which I think is probably more the problem in terms of why I decided to turn to alcohol as I became older in terms of using it to change how I felt not understanding how to process my emotions. And I think that was really more of why the conversations about alcohol never why even the conversations about alcohol never happening, and certainly just conversation in general, right. In contrast, Generation X, which I’m a part of is all about parenting. And they, they focused on learning about parenting and are known for being the most involved volunteers and highly involved in their children’s development. As the millennial generation becomes parents, they are more open minded, and they will have a freer approach to parenting than previous generations. Still, when it comes to hard subjects, parents tend to follow a familiar pattern of sitting down to have a quote unquote, big talk. For me, I remember big talks happening to me when I was being disciplined. And likewise, I kind of remember doing it to my own kids, too, though, I certainly had more conversations with my kids than my parents had with me. And experts actually advise against having a big talk when you’re setting down the rules about drinking alcohol. Instead, include the information in more of a conversational way. You want to start early and often, and endeavor to be clear about your own beliefs about alcohol. You should be prepared, no matter how young your children are, to answer questions with facts, and to address your own drinking choices. Of course, how old your children are, is going to influence how you talk about alcohol. And I’m not really going to nuance this discussion with age appropriate messages. But more importantly, I want to gear my thoughts here towards adolescents and older children who may be considering drinking. And before I break those down, I want to first say that the most important thing you can do is to model healthy living for your child. Obviously, as an adult child of an alcoholic, that was something that didn’t happen for me. And it didn’t happen for me. And just the ways, like I said, regarding alcohol, but also, and this is equally important. You want to model handling your own emotions responsibly, which gives kids the foundation they need to manage their own emotions. That was certainly something that was missing. For me, from my own childhood. Luckily, because I was a part of Gen X. And there was just a generational trend towards educating myself as a parent. I think that I benefited from that in terms of learning and, you know, improving my own mindset. But definitely, it wasn’t until I learned the behavior map and results cycle which just happened within the last five years, that I’ve really understood the power of my own brain. And the good news is, you know, your kids are still your kids, whether they’re adults or young adults or children, right. So you can always go back and re educate them on your own beliefs and show them that you are capable of transformation and show them that you are capable of evolution and changing your own behavior and changing your own thinking. So anyway, back to if I’m just going to assume you’re listening still. You are probably As someone who wants to work on having a conversation with your kids now. And so here are some of the key messages I believe we should share with our children regarding alcohol. Number one, no matter what you see on TV, what you see on social media, what you hear from your friends, drinking alcohol does not make you happier, sexier, funnier or less anxious. Alcohol is a drug with very limited therapeutic benefit and a long list of negative side effects. You might dispel some of your children’s the things that they believe right, or the things that they’ve heard that beer and wine or are safer than distilled spirits than hard liquor, that’s simply not true, you want to make sure that they understand that there are different levels of alcohol in each drink, but that the size of the drink then matters a 12 ounce beer, a five ounce glass of wine, a one and a half ounce shot of alcohol all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and the mind. And it takes on average two to three hours for a single drink to leave a person system. Nothing can speed up that process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower or walking it off. These are all things that kids hear and that they believe and you want to distill, dispel those myths, ask your child invite conversation about what they believe about alcohol. Number two, choosing to include alcohol in your life is a decision that you will make as an adult. But the facts are that there is no conclusively safe amount other than zero. If people do choose to include alcohol in their lives, they should follow low risk guidelines to mitigate risks. For kids, it’s pretty simple. You need to wait until you’re older because your brain is still developing. And using alcohol actually changes the way your brain works. Plus, of course, it’s against the law. So I used to tell my kids about this and other adult decisions like becoming sexually active. And I used to say, I’m not saying you can never drink alcohol, just wait. I actually turned weight into an abbreviation for the phrase with age in time. And I believe it was just a stronger way to let my kids know that I believed in their own ability to make good decisions. And that you’re you’re just waiting, you’re waiting until you are of age and it’s in time with age in time. Number three people who drink more than low risk guidelines may be putting themselves at risk for several negative outcomes associated with over drinking or binge drinking. Negative consequences could include accidents, injuries, feeling sick or hungover losing consciousness. And people who drive while intoxicated could be arrested. And it’s even possible to die from drinking too much in one episode. You want to share those very factual negative consequences not in a scary and threatening way. Not in a, you know, the worst case scenario. But you have to allow your children to understand that there are negative consequences associated with overdrinking. Be prepared to answer questions honestly, if your child asks you if you’ve ever experienced any of these negative consequences. Number four, most people drink because they believe that it will help them change how they are feeling. They think that it’ll increase their fun or it will help them quit feeling sad, or it will help them feel less anxious or nervous. While wandering might help people relax, anything beyond that, and the negative consequences of alcohol quickly begin to offset that limited therapeutic effect. Alcohol doesn’t change how you feel. You do that by changing your own thoughts which create your feelings. Number five. When I choose to drink alcohol, I make a plan ahead of time for how much I will drink so that I know that I’m not just being impulsive because I wanted another drink in the moment. Just like other things that aren’t good in excess, like overeating or over shopping. I want to be mindful and make decisions that reflect my healthy relationship with alcohol. It Just another place in my life where I pay attention to my habits. I include multiple alcohol free days each week, I include at least one alcohol free weekend per month. And I look forward to an alcohol free month each year. So I guess the bottom line is how we are talking about alcohol needs to be based in facts like science, and neuroscience. How we talk should match our walk, we need to have the kind of relationship with alcohol we are proud of. And we feel competent in sharing that with our kids or anyone else. And when it comes to how we can protect our children from the dangers of alcohol as they are young, I think we can let them know that alcohol is especially dangerous for young people, because their brains are not fully developed. We can acknowledge their curiosity about alcohol, and tell them that our expectations are that they will wait until they are adults to decide if and how they might include alcohol in their lives. We should tell them that as they are learning about life, they will see many different examples of people making great choices, and people making not so great choices. And we know that they will keep educating themselves to make the best choices they can for themselves. If you want some more resource resources on talking to your kids about alcohol, I’ll link in the show notes some information from the N i A from the SA M HSA. That’s the the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. And from Psychology Today, there’s no shortage of professional resources on parenting or how to talk to your kids about alcohol. But I really believe the most important conversation you can have is based in your own beliefs. Get clear on your own thoughts about alcohol. What you used to believe about alcohol what you believe now and model the relationship you want your children to have with alcohol by being an alcohol minimalist yourself. Alright, that’s all I have for you this week, my friends. Until next time, choose peace. Thank you for listening to breaking the bottle legacy. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Take something that you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol. Now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com