Model safe drinking for Thanksgiving

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The holiday season offers the perfect opportunity for parents to communicate with their children about drinking alcohol.

Children who live in homes where alcohol is not the primary focus of holiday get-togethers may be less likely to grow up thinking that drinking is the key ingredient to having a good time. Parents should keep in mind that children are very observant and are likely to be more influenced by how parents handle alcohol rather than what parents actually tell them about it.

Recent research even suggests that holidays may be one environmental factor that can either increase or decrease risk of alcoholism within families. To decrease risk, successful holiday celebrations should offer plenty of alternatives to alcohol so that guests will not be tempted to drink excessively and so that non-drinking guests will not feel left out. Non-alcoholic beverages, food and activities other than drinking will help to ensure a safer, more inclusive party. Instead of bringing a bottle of alcohol to a holiday party, guests should consider giving a gift that everyone can enjoy, such as a dessert or a holiday decoration.

That being said, more likely than not, alcohol will be present at any holiday party you attend. This is a good time to show your children what responsible drinking entails. If your children observe that you drink in moderation and that alcohol is not the main component in having a good time, he/she may be more likely to model this behavior.

As always, have a designated driver at every holiday event you choose to attend. If for some reason this doesn't happen, call a taxi instead of trying to drive home after a few drinks.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the article or about drinking behaviors during the holidays, please feel free to contact me or Capt. (Dr.) Chad Morrow at the Maxwell Mental Health Clinic at 953-5430.