Here’s a quick question for you to ponder: would you ever give alcohol to a child?
What if they were upset? Or needed cheering up? Or they were anxious about something? Or just a bit lonely?
Phew. I thought that’s what you’d say. Because most reasonable human beings would never dream of giving alcohol to a child.
The idea of opening the fridge and handing them a beer after a bad day at school is just… well, crazy.
Aside from what alcohol might do to their growing bodies, it would be very scary for them to feel drunk, dizzy and out of control. And we’d be sending them a rather strange message about how to deal with life’s challenges.
So – if we wouldn’t inflict alcohol on our kids, why do we drink it?
Isn’t it strange how we just expect children to cope with situations that we would find difficult?
We assume they’ll settle in at a new school, make new friends, learn everything they need to, deal with puberty, pass their exams AND navigate all the other dramas that come with growing up.
Yet as soon as we’re in a similar situation (think: new job, work stress, having to make new friends) we insist that we need wine to cope with it all!
I reckon there are a few lessons that children can teach us about dealing with life – and living alcohol-free…
It helps to acknowledge your emotions.
Children will let you know when they’re hurt, confused, angry, sad or happy. Sometimes they’ll shout about it, or scream or cry or yell with excitement. And you’ve got to admit, it works. I’m not suggesting we all start throwing toddler-style tantrums in the supermarket, but acknowledging our emotions is really important. When you think about it, drinking is what we do to squash down feelings. Numbing out doesn’t fix anything – it just robs you of the opportunity to address the root cause of your problems.
You can try new things before you’re fully prepared.
Children are the masters of jumping feet-first into unknown waters. They aren’t worried about whether they’re ready, they don’t stop and think about what can go wrong – they say yes and go for it. As adults, we’re great at doing the exact opposite. We do a lot of thinking without taking a lot of action. How many times have you said you’re ‘not quite ready’ to stop drinking? Success happens when you take action. It’s better to act and make a mistake than do nothing at all. Kids are proof that we don’t always have to be fully prepared in order to move forwards.
Good times have nothing to do with booze.
Just look at children when they’re at parties. Do they need alcohol in order to have fun, or let their hair down? No way. It’s their attitude and natural enthusiasm that makes the difference. Most of us behaved exactly the same way as kids. We spent our childhoods happily socialising without alcohol. Then we reached adulthood and were told that wasn’t the way to do it anymore. Overnight, our sense of ‘fun’ started to change – and we began to give alcohol all the power.
We get really grumpy without enough sleep, food and water.
We’re always quick to put a child’s whiny mood down to being tired or hungry, but as adults we frequently underestimate how important it is to have enough food, sleep and water. It’s no coincidence that we feel the strongest cravings to drink around 6pm – the time of day when we’re most likely to be hungry and dehydrated. The frustration and moodiness that comes with being sleep deprived can also have a big impact – it eats away at your willpower and motivation to change. Funnily enough, when you stop drinking it becomes a lot easier to get a decent night’s sleep!