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Family 411: Talking to children about alcohol

Tips about talking to your children about alcohol (MGN)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - Parents are a big influence on their children. When it comes to alcohol, experts believe a conversation about drinking is better sooner than later.

Some parents lock it up while others leave it out. Some moms and dads just don't have any alcohol around the house.

Whatever parents do, they should remember children are watching and learning. "Children start to really form opinions and attitudes about alcohol as early as age 9."

Psychiatrist Dr. Megan Schabbing says it's important parents talk to children about alcohol and have the conversation early. "It's kind of a matter of they don't know what to say they don't know when to say it."

Dr. Schabbing says keep the conversation brief in an open forum that's not threatening. "You know, if you were to drink and you get caught you could wind up having a permanent criminal record."

Jean Glagola has always had an open relationship with her children. "I would rather they learn anything and everything from us."

She says she grew up with alcohol around her and the freedom to try it. "I can remember going on vacation to Atlantic City being 8 or 10 years old and my mom would say do you want to try the pina colada?"

Jean brought the same philosophy into her own home. "If they wanted to try it they could try it."

Jean's two children are now adults but says she's built the same open relationship with her 16-year-old stepdaughter and 13-year-old stepson. "He can't wait till he's old enough to drink because he likes the different flavors of beer."

Dr. Schabbing advises against allowing children to sample alcohol. "You want them to think in their minds it's not okay to drink underage."

Jean says her children understand drinking is an adult activity that comes with responsibilities and consequences. "I'm sure there are other children it doesn't work with you have to take another avenue for that but I think for most kids if you're honest with them and practice what you preach they'll see that."

Dr. Schabbing suggests finding a natural way bring it up the conversation, one that could be related to your own behaviors.

If you'd like more information on how to start the discussion there are resources out there that offer recommendations like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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