Seems like every other day we hear the results of some new study about teens and drinking. They're drinking more! They're drinking less! They're drinking at home! They're drinking at school! They're drinking top shelf vodka! They're pounding shots of mouthwash!
As a mom, at a certain point I kind of started tuning it all out, for sanity's sake. How are we supposed to sift through all these contradictions to find the truth? But the latest research definitely got my attention: Apparently exposure to alcohol consumption in movies is a bigger risk for teen drinking than having parents who drink regularly or having an easily accessible liquor cabinet at home.
Seriously?! How can this possibly be?
According to conventional parenting wisdom, this theory makes no sense at all. Our influence is supposed to trump that of the media and/or our kids' peers, assuming we actually manage to exert a positive influence.
But then it occurred to me: Maybe kids who are unduly influenced by some random star drinking whiskey from the bottle on the big screen are not, in fact, being sufficiently influenced by their parents.
Maybe it's not enough to curb our own alcohol consumption or lock up the gin. Maybe we have to make a point of addressing alcohol use/abuse whenever it comes up, no matter how casually.
Maybe, as with most things, we have to make a point of talking about this issue with our kids on a regular basis.
Like, "So, do you think Ryan Gosling is drinking a lot of beer in this movie? What do you think would happen in real life if somebody drank that much beer?"
If setting a good example isn't enough to stop kids from abusing alcohol, good communication must be the missing piece.
At least I hope so, because I'm running out of ideas.
What do you think about the research indicating alcohol use in movies has a stronger influence on teens than alcohol use at home?
Image via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr