Holiday cheer! Did I drink too much this season?

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Between the eggnog filled get-togethers around Christmas and the champagne infused parties surrounding New Year’s Eve, ’tis the season for drinking, drinking, and drinking some more. Holiday time isn’t just for grown-ups though, with both my teenage daughters having full social calendars including team dinners, “Secret Santa” bashes, and every other sort of party. Even for teenagers, it is clear to me, the alcohol flows right along with the incessant seasonal music.

Regardless of the law, my under-age children don’t have any trouble getting drinks into their hands. I have been struck in these past few weeks by how common drinking is among the under-21 set and how accepted and out in the open it seems.

At the same time, I’m aware of a number of my friends who have stopped drinking, standing forlornly at celebrations with a glass of seltzer or Diet Coke because of the ill effects of alcohol on their lives. Those who can handle the spirits of Christmas and those who can’t seems arbitrary, and it makes me worry about my girls.

Looking back on my teenage years, I can’t say things were much different. There were plenty of opportunities to get hold of beer and drink way too much of it. Of the kids I knew, though, who moved on and who ended up in rehab or AA seems like a crapshoot. The problem is a real one with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency, estimating that 17 million Americans 12-years-old and up in 2014 had an Alcohol Use Disorder and more than a quarter of all those who imbibe count as heavy or binge drinkers. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, at the same time says that, “No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted,” which means it is just a little less than random whose life will get messed up and whose won’t.

I’m not thinking of pouring out all the bottles in the liquor cabinet and advocating the life of a teetotaler, but my kids certainly pay attention to the adults around them and the things we do. When I’m out to dinner with friends there is always a bottle of wine with the meal, often after cocktails. Over the holidays I went bowling with friends and somehow a pitcher of beer appeared.

The example being set around my girls suddenly seems pretty poor. It isn’t the mistletoe or the kiss at midnight that is an excuse for bad behavior, it is the bottles of liquid cheer pouring throughout the evening that is used to pardon dancing on tables or puking on someone’s rug. Laughing about misdeeds the next day gives my kids the message that this behavior is all right.

Wishes, charms and prayers may not be enough to ensure my daughters’ health but showing them that not every social interaction needs to involve alcohol may be a tool that can work. I need to do more than just hope that my daughters keep a healthy relationship with the eggnog and champagne and don’t end up being the ones who start swimming in the punch bowl.

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Posted 12:00 am, January 7, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Well, you shouldn't worry too much. When they turn 18 they'll be able to make their own decisions about whether to... oh wait, your generation raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 in the 1980's because "screw anyone who isn't a baby boomer" ...yeah, I forgot that. That might be the reason that under 21 but over 18 year olds don't give a crap about the drinking age when they get the "it was ok for me but not for you" bull from you boomers. I thankfully was quite used to knowing about alcoholic beverages thanks to growing up in an Italian family where wine at the dinner table was a standard and there wasn't some social hangup about it.

When I did turn 18 and went to a SUNY close enough to the Canadian border to regularly purchase liquor quite legally in Quebec, I made tons of money reselling it to idiot 19 year olds who had never had a dink in their life and had no idea how it was going to affect them (a $120 text book for a bullcrap natural science requirement isn't going to pay for itself). Yeah, you keep Carrie Nationing your kids, and when they turn 21 they'll have access to as much as they can buy, and no idea what it will do to them. Smart move jerk face.
Jan. 8, 2016, 5:52 pm
RKD from Park Slope says:
I agree that 21 is wrong - kids who can die for their country should be allowed to drink.
As to setting an example, that was pretty much taken care of by the time they reached their teens. Judging by what you've written in the past, I'd reckon that your behavior has already given your kids a moderate outlook on life, the universe & everything.
Jan. 9, 2016, 11:53 am
Janet from Williamsburg says:
It's fairly obvious- you're not a good father.
Jan. 9, 2016, 12:04 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
You're doing fine.
Jan. 9, 2016, 2:22 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
21 yo drinking age is silly. my daughter is 20 and if she wants a drink she can have it.
Jan. 10, 2016, 7:50 am

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