Louth parents told to start the conversation about Leaving Cert results drinking
Some useful tips to ensure the safety of all
Drinkaware, the national charity working to prevent and reduce the misuse of alcohol is advising parents to start the conversation about alcohol with their children ahead of the Leaving Cert celebrations. As exams finish and celebrations begin, remember to keep the topic of alcohol in conversation whether your child is under or over the age of eighteen.
The call to action comes as Drinkaware’s Families, Alcohol & COVID-19 Barometer found that 82% of teenagers report drinking for social reasons including celebrating and ‘because it’s fun’ (compared to 49% national average).
Drinkaware has shared some useful tips to support parents to speak openly celebrating safely:
Plan ahead: Plan their day with them and talk about how they can mark and celebrate this milestone before they celebrate the end of exams. Ask how they would like to do this and with whom, discussing safe ways they can keep within the public health guidelines. Make sure that you are both fully informed and comfortable with the plans.
Talk about alcohol: Discuss whether alcohol will be involved and how alcohol, especially excessive drinking, might impact on their and their fellow students’ behaviour. Explain that alcohol is a depressant and using drink to celebrate or commiserate will often have the opposite effect than intended. Talk about things they can do, or drinks they can have that do not contain alcohol – such as a no-alcohol alternative.
Check in with other parents: Talk to other parents to share your rules around celebrating the end of the leaving certificate this year. It’s likely that the parents of your child’s friends are having the same anxieties as you about how to safely manage gatherings and providing support at this stressful time. This will help you to assess the potential impact of external influences.
Come up with alternatives: Discuss other options to mark the occasion. Celebrating with family for example may not be the same as with friends, but research showed that many households with teens and young people, enjoyed the resurgence of ‘family’ time during COVID-19.
Don’t assume they will drink alcohol: Younger adults are leading the global ‘sober curious’ movement amid a desire to prioritise health. Encourage your teenager to embrace this alcohol-free lifestyle.
Mind your own mental health: This is a stressful time for parents too. Stay calm and manage your own anxieties first before you talk to your children. Being a positive role model and setting an example around alcohol use is very important. When you use coping strategies that don’t involve alcohol, it is showing your young person how to deal with problems in a healthy way.
Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, commented: “This has been a tough year for Leaving Cert students, and the classes of 2021 are dealing with unprecedented feelings of anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Drinkaware is always being asked by parents how and when they should discuss alcohol with their children and young people. Especially at this time and regarding the results, we advise parents to talk openly about how their young adults cope with the intense feelings of stress, or celebration, or peer pressure – all of which can be prevalent at this milestone in their lives. And because we know alcohol is often used as a coping strategy, it is important that parents discuss how they can manage these feelings in a healthy way and without alcohol.
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