By Tari Marshall, Director of External Affairs, Prevention First
A guy I know told me that when his family gets together for special events they build beer can pyramids with their empties. Sometimes the pyramids cover most of a wall. They clearly aren’t worried about modeling responsible drinking for the kids, or even for the adults for that matter.
With the Super Bowl coming up, rather than plan your own monument to excessive drinking, Prevention First is encouraging everyone to consider how to be a Responsible Party Host.
WHO SHOULDN’T DRINK?
It’s easy to forget that there are people who can’t or shouldn’t drink, or who don’t like to drink, even on special occasions. It’s important to keep in mind not only underage teens, but also friends and relatives who may be recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, and women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant. And there is one other group that nobody thinks about – adults who just don’t like alcohol and don’t drink, but who get bothered about why they have iced tea instead of a beer. That would be me, so I’ve experienced the adult peer pressure to drink many times. How can we expect teenagers to resist each other when the adults are sometimes just as bad?
A DIFFERENT GAME PLAN
Being a Responsible Party Host goes beyond taking people’s keys away and making sure there are Designated Drivers. Those are strategies for an adult party where people might have more than the “responsible” amount of alcohol. But when children and teens are present, there should be a different game plan.
For instance, you might want to rethink the beer can pyramid, because it’s a life lesson in heavy drinking. You might as well post a sign, “We drink a lot and are proud of it!” If you don’t want to raise your teenagers to be overindulgent drinkers, then keeping the adult drinking low key is the best way to go.
Allowing underage teens to drink at home is not only unhealthy for them now, but is likely to affect their drinking habits away from home. I have friends who say they know their kids drink when with their friends, so they let them drink at home. Unfortunately, the message they get is that “it’s OK with my parents if I drink.” There are a lot of tough calls when you’re a parent, and enforcing a “no teen drinking in my house or anywhere else” policy is the healthiest thing for teenagers.
Another hard call may be if there is someone who is pregnant, or who you know is trying to get pregnant, who asks for a drink. Alcohol can cause permanent brain damage to a fetus. You wouldn’t put alcohol in a baby’s bottle, so you don’t want to give alcohol to a pregnant woman. It may be uncomfortable for you to suggest something non-alcoholic, but it is the responsible thing to do.
Super Bowl hosts that want to offer something more than sodas and coffee can find a lot of great non-alcoholic drink recipes on the Internet that will make everyone feel like they’re getting something special.