Local parenting bloggers have been joining in the #SAB18plus conversation.
Here we highlight just some of the issues raised in this national conversation. Read on for an insight into each blogger’s views, and click on the titles to visit their original posts.
Angel Conradie drew on her own experiences with alcohol, as well as her experience as a parent of teens. Her approach was an absolute “no” to alcohol for children under the age of 18, while still having enough trust and honesty between herself and her children to be approachable in difficult situations. “I don’t go around with blinkers on, and growing up he [my son] always knew – and still knows – that if he needs a ride or he’s stuck somewhere he can call me. His safety is what’s important, we can deal with the fallout later.” “I’m not denying that children will try their hand at all kinds of things, but that doesn’t make it okay, ” she wrote. She also focused on the importance of adults having a healthy attitude towards alcohol, not just for their own sake, but as role models for the younger generation. “I feel it builds a healthy attitude towards alcohol if children can see their parents enjoying a beer at a braai or a cocktail at a party – whatever it may be – and doing so without behaving like an idiot or driving drunk.”
Suzanne Scott blogged about the perceptions around different types of alcohol in relation to underage drinking. Drawing on her experiences as a parent allowing her children to take sips of her drinks, she raised issues around alcoholic drinks that don’t taste like alcohol and are thus more appealing to teens. For example, her children’s reaction to tasting a strong wine was one of disgust, although they enjoyed the fruity, sweet taste of a cocktail. This highlighted the fact that cocktails and other such sweet drinks do not taste much like alcohol, and are consequently easier to drink faster. This can be misleading to adults who are drinking them, as well as have more serious consequences for underage drinkers. Another issue she explored was adult perceptions around “soft” alcohol, which some people consider less dangerous to underage drinkers than other types of alcohol. “There is no such thing as ‘soft alcohol’ [or] an ‘introduction to alcohol’ as many of my friends have said about letting their children drink at home and at parties.”
“No one under 18 should be drinking alcohol and it is up to us to stop our denial about the situation and do something about it.” Karen du Toit brought up the question of parents serving their teenagers a little bit of wine with their meals. She highlighted the fact that there are no studies at all to show that this practice has any benefits. In fact the opposite is true, as she showed in her blog. She prompted adults to start a conversation amongst South Africans, raising the following points:
- It is not okay to give your teenager a drink so you can “control it”
- It is not okay to send your child to the local tavern to get alcohol for you
- It is not okay to take your child to a pub with you
- It’s not okay to do nothing when you see teenagers drinking
- It’s not okay for alcohol to be a taboo subject that we don’t discuss with our children