When I was a little girl, my mom and I had a special signal at parties. Any time I felt like I needed her, all I had to do was make eye contact with her and touch my nose. That was the sign that I really needed to talk to her.
And every single time I used the sign, she would excuse herself from the adult conversation she was having and meet me in the bathroom to hear what I had to say.
Every. Single. Time.
She came when I was 5, and I wanted to give her a hug.
She came when I was 11, and the girl that I thought HATED me showed up at the pool party we were at. (And later became my best friend.)
She came when I was 17, and the boy that I thought I loved went to prom with someone else.
It didn’t matter what my mom was doing, who she was with – or that she might have really wanted to have an adult conversation for a change – she always saw my signal and met me in the bathroom.
My entire childhood was made up of hundreds of interactions like this – that all added up to me feeling totally and utterly safe, loved and cherished.
Now that I have kids of my own, I want them to feel the exact same way that I did. I want them to know that they are valued and loved and cherished.
So I listen when they tell me the same jokes over and over again. I laugh at their stories and invite them to sit and talk with me while I make dinner or whip up breakfast. (Or I put them to work.)
I also do my best to model healthy behavior for them. Not in a “this is how you live your life” kind of way – but in subtle ways that will hopefully help them naturally adopt healthy behaviors as adults.
I exercise regularly. I eat plenty of vegetables and get a decent amount of sleep. I’m kind to others.
And I drink in front of them.
Yes, I said that I purposely drink in front of my kids.
It’s not because their jokes are driving me to drink or their constant playground stories are only bearable if I have a glass of wine in my hand.
Why I Drink In Front of My Kids
I’m not a huge drinker, but I occasionally have a drink in front of my kids for several reasons.
1. I’m thirsty. KIDDING – keep reading.
2. Kids do what I do, not what I say. Some might translate this as a reason for me NOT to drink, so that my kids won’t. But really, I want them to be able to have a healthy relationship with alcohol when they’re adults, and I want to model what that might look like.
3. I want to be their alcohol role model – not a drunk uncle or someone else’s mom. I want it to be ME. I want them to see that it’s appropriate to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at a backyard grill out. I want them to see that I don’t overindulge or have trouble carrying on conversations after I’ve had a drink.
4. I want them to know that they can still feel safe after I have a drink. Now that my kids are getting older, we have a signal at parties too. All they have to do is make eye contact, touch their nose, and I’m there.
I’m there if I’m in the middle of a really fun conversation with other moms. I’m there if I’m in the middle of drinking a cocktail. I’m there if I’m in the middle of drinking a glass of water. It doesn’t matter – I’m there. And they are safe.
5. It’s a conversation starter. When I choose to have an occasional drink, it’s a great time to talk to my kids about alcohol. At 5, 7 and 8, they’re still young, but they understand that alcohol is for adults – just like marriage and eating the good chocolate on the top shelf of the pantry.
They understand that you never drive after you’ve been drinking alcohol. And they understand why I usually stop after one drink – so I don’t feel silly or get sick.
These conversations are very brief, but one day they’ll all add up to build the foundation of a healthy relationship with alcohol.
Don’t Take My Word for It!
Psychologist Dr. Alvord is the author of three books and specializes in resilience in children. In this video, she talks about parents drinking in front of their kids – and why it may be a good thing.
Making Conscious Choices as a Parent
This parenting gig is hard, and I’m only beginning the journey.
I hear it gets a lot harder.
Luckily I have amazing parenting role models in my life to help guide me along – like my mom and dad and mother-in-law.
And I’m also grateful to be a #TalkEarly blogger with Responsibility.org. Through my partnership with them, I’ve learned so much about how I want to parent my kids.
I’ve learned what my response will be if (when) they want a sip of my drink someday.
I’ve learned that I need to be talking about alcohol with them NOW – not when they’re in junior high or high school.
I’ve learned how to be a better parent. (hint: it takes effort.)
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.