This is what happens when kids see their parents drinking alcohol

the campaign Look drink, drink Parents are urged not to drink alcohol in front of their children. So is it time to take a critical look at your drinking behavior? Teens are always looking for the lowest point. But do you want to be the sink?

Hans van der Beek

Forty years ago it was completely normal: the son of the house got his first beer in China, because he is already twelve years old. Father is very proud.

Times have changed a bit. The AAN campaign urges parents not to drink in front of their children under the slogan “Seeing a drink makes drinking.”

Young people who start drinking at age 15 are four times more likely to become problem drinking later. The later they start, the lower the chance. Excessive teenage drinking can lead to a lower IQ.

That’s why the example parents set is so important, says Carmen Vogt, a scientific researcher with the Center for Experience for Alcohol at the Trimbos Institute. “Research shows that when children see their parents drinking, they start to think positively about alcohol, and they start drinking more often.”

This copying behavior cannot be overstated. Children imitate their parents from an early age. How to eat with a knife and fork, how to properly say goodbye. But also how to deal with steroids.

beer gut

“Hey, have a drink” during a televised football match. You can use a glass of wine after a hard day at work. “There’s always five somewhere on the clock” with a morning beer. Children hear it, and begin to think that it is normal.

All cliché drinkers are covered in the fun and beautifully designed campaign. But from the mouth of young children. At the end of this commercial – there are six – the image changes and the children turn into adults wearing the same clothes.

Two boys sitting on the sofa. With beardless voices in my throat: “I’m already starting to get my beer pen.” “Ah, good tools under the shelter.” “Yes, you have to train your beer muscles really well.” “Hey, you haven’t arrived yet? You have to drink, right.”

Then the boys turn thirty-two, someone knocks on the bottle.

“These are very powerful films,” says parenting expert Marina van der Waal. “It is very important that children do not learn that funny and difficult moments are indispensable without alcohol. And this campaign is very much needed. Not drinking is a sign of not belonging. This must go.”


Professor of otolaryngology Jeroen Janssen argues for good reason that alcohol should become the new smoking. “There has to be a cultural change. The norm now: There is something, wine glasses on the table. It is not normal for alcohol to automatically drink at a party. People need to see that, and children should not be taught that.”

Jansen can’t stress enough how bad alcohol is. As a citizen I say: Look how much misery it causes. Traffic accidents and misconduct in public and private life. And as an oncologist I say: Because you can get cancer. ”

Alcohol causes 200 disorders and diseases, including seven cancers, cardiovascular disease and addiction. Drinking a glass of wine every day increases the risk of breast cancer by 12%.

The risks are even greater for young people. Brain maturation continues until about the age of 25. “If a teen starts drinking at the age of 15, alcohol breaks down less efficiently,” says neuropsychologist Gilly Jules, who has spent years researching adolescent brain development. “Since the young man’s brain is still developing vigorously, he is very vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol.”

The teenager will not listen

Children imitate what they see their parents do. In developmental psychology, this is modeling the name of the thing. Van der Waal: An acquaintance has a three-year-old son. When they ask what Mama wants to drink, he runs out of the kitchen on his legs with a bottle of white wine. This is printed.”

Developmental Psychologist Stephen Pont: “Life has to be learned. This is how you learn to speak. You see a big brown animal, and you notice that people call it a horse, and then you start saying a horse. That’s how you socialize: you find what you see as normal more often.”

But the same goes for negative things. Pont: “If you yell at your child so loudly that you don’t scream like that, the question is: is he listening to what you say, or is he watching what you’re doing? The same goes for alcohol. If children see that their parents are drinking a lot, of course it is normal.”

The argument often heard from parents – who are tired – is: Even if you set a good example, your teen mainly listens to his friends. “False reasons, excuses,” says van der Waal. Sure, teens are always looking for the lowest point. But do you want to be the sink? That’s right, if you block something, they get angry and that’s indivisible. But parenting doesn’t have to be comfortable at home. Teach children how to deal with disappointment and rejection.”

wrecking ball

When the Pont kids were twelve years old, he showed them a video of a smashing ball crashing into a building. “Then I said, ‘Look, this building, this is your brain, and that wrecking ball is alcohol.'” With an explanation that a building under construction will be much more damaged than a completed building.

Pont: “We didn’t have any alcohol in our house until the age of eighteen. That’s a clear norm. Then parents say: But they do it differently anyway. But the question is whether you’re doing something legitimate, or whether you’re secretly drinking beer in park and you know you’re beyond the norm.”

Van der Waal: “A healthy teenager is a disobedient teenager. He will look for boundaries and sometimes overstep them. So the experience of alcohol isn’t that crazy, but if you set clear boundaries, there is a soft voice in their minds: It’s not good.”


Jolles emphasizes the great influence of Single pressure. “Young people have a social mind that develops well beyond their 20s. They are highly vulnerable to influence, especially from their peers and group of friends. You drink because of the social environment because your friends say, ‘Hey Thomas, coward, fourth beer, it’s over.'”

That is why parents, according to Jules, have an important task. Discuss with their children about how alcohol affects brain development. Motivate their children and give them a handle to resist temptations.”

So parents – that will come as a shock to many – should they do 0.0 at home?

Pont: “Of course this is up to each parent, as long as you know you are being looked at closely. And if you drink a glass of wine once in a while, keep it up. But it changes again when you drink yourself a Lazarus in front of your child.”

Van der Waal: “A glass of wine on a Sunday evening, after you have cooked it extensively, can be the icing on the cake, but not as the daily bread.”

On the other hand, also gone are the days when a father smoked in the car, with three children in the back seat. Professor Jansen (alcohol is the new smoking): “Exactly, we have good memories of that. This was completely normal. Very special, if you think about it.”

Are we really going to a time when Dad, just as with smoking, drinks his beer on the porch? Jansen: “With the difference that smoking next to a child is directly harmful to that child. Drinking next to a child is not bad for the child per se, but it is a natural mindset. And that is something to do. Because if people realize that drinking is unhealthy for children, it is also unhealthy for children. them of course.”

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