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Family 411 - Children & alcohol

Family 411 - Children & alcohol

Parents are a big influence on their children, so when it comes to alcohol, experts believe a conversation about drinking is better when it happens sooner and not later.

Reporter Tara Morgan shows us how parents can bring up the discussion, in this edition of the “Family 411.”

Some parents lock it up, others leave it out, while still other moms and dads just don't have any alcohol around the house at all.

Whichever choice you make, remember: children are watching and learning.

“Children start to really form opinions and attitudes about alcohol as early as age nine," said Psychiatrist Dr. Megan Schabbing.

Dr. Schabbing says it's important for parents talk to children about alcohol, and you should have the conversation early.

"It's kind of a matter of, they don't know what to say, they don't know when to say it," said Dr. Schabbing.

She says parents should keep the conversation brief, and it should happen in an open forum that's not threatening.

"You know, if you were to drink and you get caught, you could wind up having a permanent criminal record," said Dr. Schabbing.

Jean Glagola has always had an open relationship with her children.

"I would rather they learn anything and everything from us," said Glagola.

She says she grew up with alcohol around her, and she had the freedom to try it.

"I can remember going on vacation to Atlantic City, being 8 or 10-years-old, and my mom would say, ‘do you want to try the piña colada?’” said Glagola.

Glagola brought the same philosophy into her own home.

"If they wanted to try it they could try it,” said Glagola.

Her two children are now adults, but Glagola says she's built the same open relationship with her stepchildren.

She has a 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.

"He can't wait ‘till he's old enough to drink, because he likes the different flavor of beer,” said Glagola.

Dr. Schabbing, however, advises against allowing children to sample alcohol.

"You want them to think in their minds it's not okay to drink under age,” said Dr. Schabbing.

Glagola says her kids understand drinking is an adult activity that comes with responsibilities and consequences.

“I'm sure there are other children it doesn't work with, you have to take another avenue for that, but I think for most kids, if you’re honest with them and practice what you preach, they'll see that,” said Glagola.

Dr. Schabbing suggests finding a natural way bring it up the conversation, one that could be related to your own behaviors.

If you'd like more information on how to start the discussion, there are resources out there offering recommendations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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