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How To Teach Our Children To Celebrate Without Overdoing It

It’s wonderful to celebrate the joys of life. Whether it’s a birth, graduation, birthday, anniversary or any other achievement, those moments are truly special and deserve joyful recognition. Surrounded by family or friends, these celebrations create unforgettable memories that will also help us get through those not-so-happy moments.

The problem is that sometimes celebrations become an excuse for excess. When children are young, birthdays can bring on a sugar overdose from too much cake, candy, and sweetened drinks.

Once we become adults, the holidays can lead to excessive consumption of alcohol, with everything it implies. Our children are always watching us and figuring out from our actions what behavior is acceptable and what’s not. That’s why I try to show my kids that you can celebrate without having to overdo anything, whether it’s food or drink.

This may seem logical but among Latinos sometimes it can be difficult to implement. Our grandmothers may not understand (or even seem offended) that we don’t want not eat until our bellies seem to explode, or teens might openly rebel when you refuse to let them take a sip of your champagne glass. Even grandparents can pressure young people to try alcohol at family gatherings, because in the past they believed sipping alcohol when you’re young taught teens to drink responsibly and avoid college binge drinking.

However, recent research indicates that if we give teens alcohol, it markedly increases binge drinking. When someone consumes alcohol for the first time at age 14 (or earlier), he or she is six times more likely to develop alcohol problems than those who wait until the legal drinking age.

How to celebrate in a healthy way

Here are some tips to teach your child to celebrate in a healthy way:

1. Lead by example: 

It’s not enough to tell your kids what to do. Show with your actions that you can celebrate without excess.

2. Show that it is possible to be happy without resorting to alcohol: 

Children need to see that it is not necessary to drink a glass of wine or beer to celebrate something or to show their joy.

3. Ask the rest of the family for their support:

It’s always a good idea to talk about family habits with grandparents and relatives so everyone is aware of how their actions and words affect kids. If your own parents want to give alcohol to minors, explain that times have changed and that you have a different point of view. Do not forget to thank them for their cooperation and support, even if they disagree with you.

4. Explain that there are several ways to celebrate: 

We tend to associate a celebration with a toast, but something as simple gathering the family together is meaningful enough to mark a special occasion. When thinking of gift options for a host, consider flowers instead of a bottle of wine. You can also party with great music and dancing, to show that we can have fun without consuming alcohol.

In any case, be prepared for complicated questions. Kids will ask (a lot!) when they see certain behaviors at family parties. They may wonder why someone acted erratically or why they were saying inappropriate things. Do not try to hide the truth or lie to your child, because they need to trust you. Kids, especially teens, know when we are trying to deceive them.

Jeannette is an award-winning bilingual journalist and TV personality. She is the founder of the bilingual platformHispana Global and is the co-founder of Todobebé. Jeannette currently serves as a member of Responsibility.org’sNational Advisory Board

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) or any Responsibility.org member.*

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