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Parents and Alcohol, Educating our Youth

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Parents and Alcohol, Educating our Youth

16 February 2011

Firm and supportive parenting is the best answer to decreasing alcohol abuse issues affecting Victoria’s Jewish youth.  This is the message that came across loud and clear at the JCCV public forum on 16 November 2010, as part of the  ongoing Youth Alcohol Project (YAP) being run by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).

Guest speakers at the Public Forum included:

  • Rene D’Santanna - Senior Drug and Alcohol Counsellor, Odyssey House Victoria;
  • Danny Elbaum - Operations Manager, Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne;
  • Michelle Kornberg - Educator and Family Counsellor; and
  • Senior Constable Lisa Prince - Youth Resource Officer Glen Eira, Victoria Police.

Many parents at the Public Forum and those that had attended previous YAP parents’ sessions at Jewish schools stated they felt powerless in their role to influence their child’s drinking behaviour. Some parents are also under the impression that all teenagers drink to excess regularly and many believe binge drinking is a rite of passage to adulthood.

All the speakers confirmed, that current evidence based on research and their own professional and personal experience, shows that parents do make a positive difference when it comes to their child’s alcohol consumption and behaviour. Furthermore, parents indeed play a crucial role towards shaping their child’s attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol.

"Parents felt powerless in their role to influence their child's drinking behaviour"

So what role can parents play? The speakers offered a number of practical strategies for parents to utilise including:

I. Positive Role Modelling

The speakers encourage parents to be positive role models to their children. Parents who drink alcohol in excess and have more lenient attitudes towards teenage alcohol consumption are more likely to have children who consume alcohol at higher and riskier levels. It is vital to educate your children by providing yourself first and foremost as a positive example.

II. Set Clear Boundaries

Every family has their own set of rules, expectations, boundaries and values system. The speakers unanimously agreed that although every family is different on these perspectives, it is paramount that parents are consistent.  In particular, parents need to follow through with agreed consequences, and ensure that ‘no’ means ‘no’. The speakers confirmed that parents who set positive family standards, rules, reward good behaviour and use negotiation skills in conflict and discussion, appear able to delay the age their child starts to drink and reinforce positive alcohol behaviours.

Thus the take-home message is clear and simple: Parents do play an integral and major role in their child’s alcohol consumption, attitudes and behaviour. Listen and talk to your child at every opportunity, become involved in their life and believe in the power of your family – you can make a difference!

For further enquiries about YAP, contact Debbie Zauder, Project Officer on 0413 263 673 or dzauder@jccv.org.au

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