Creating Safe and Joyful Holiday Celebrations
The winter holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family, friends and co-workers. Where does substance use fit into this picture?
The widespread availability of alcohol at holiday parties gives our youth many opportunities to sneak alcohol when no one is looking, or convince a relative to let them enjoy “just one” alcoholic beverage. And some parents may be more inclined to let their teenagers have an alcoholic drink to share in a family toast, or otherwise share in the “holiday spirits.”
So, you might ask, where is the harm in that? Let’s make a list.
By allowing underage drinking during the holidays, adults deprive teens of clear, common sense and consistent guidelines they need to make good choices all year long. It is clear that parents who talk with their teens about underage drinking, set expectations for behavior, and enforce consequences for violating the rules are significantly less likely to have children who use alcohol. The silver lining in this holiday cloud can be found in widespread agreement among teens that their parents are significant forces when it comes to decisions about alcohol. Parent influence is a very powerful deterrent—according to Teens Today, almost seven in ten high school teens (66%) rate mom and dad as most influential in their decisions not to drink.
There are some simple things that you can do to lessen the exposure of your children to holiday substances. Consider these holiday celebration tips:
Why not create some substance-free holiday traditions for your family? It’s a great way to show your child that you can have fun during the holidays without alcohol or drugs. You can find a number of unique non-alcoholic recipes that can add flavor to your party by giving your guests healthy, tasty alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
Empower encourages more dialogue around underage drinking—especially before and during the holiday season. The conversation should not be whether the behavior is right or wrong, but rather the health effects to the developing brains and bodies of children and youth. We need to move beyond debates and focus on health risks and safety implications. Our messages should be consistent and clear: underage drinking is unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable. All of us at Empower wish you a safe and joyful holiday season.
Read our 2017 Annual Report here, or check out some of the photos from the celebration on our Events page!
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