Last week, in honor of New Year's Eve and all the drinking that goes with it, my sister and I were discussing the subject of consuming alcohol in front of our kids. Frankly, we have alcoholics in our family history. Of course, growing up, no one ever dared to utter the word "alcoholic". Instead, furtive whispers and tsk tsks about "too much drinking" were offered instead. One relative, who on his deathbed in the hospital was drinking is still 20 years later, TO THIS DAY, never, ever referred to as an alcoholic. Because I guess that would be disrespectful? Bad? How about informative?
As an adult, I am conscious of my own alcohol consumption. I've had 2 periods of my life where I was mostly bored and lonely - either working a ton of hours or traveling or BOTH. Frankly, watching movies or TV with a beer or glass of wine was a relaxing way to spend an evening in those days. While I don't think I am an alcoholic, I do look back on those periods and see that I was drinking too much. As a result, I understand how all too easy it is to slip into that cycle.
Now that I am a parent, all of this has taken on great meaning. I do believe there is a genetic component to alcoholism. Furthermore, I've seen firsthand what a slippery slope alcohol consumption can become and it has given me a greater compassion for what an alcoholic must go through. I also have to be cognizant of the fact that alcoholism may very well linger in my own children's genes. I guess I could go the route of "no alcohol", but I'd prefer a more moderate approach by showing my children that a glass of wine can be consumed with dinner in a responsible manner.
But most importantly? When they are older and able to handle the information, I will be upfront with my children about the alcoholism that makes up their familial history. I may or may not name names, but I think my children need to know those pertinent facts as they face a world littered with images glorifying all that is alcohol. I certainly don't resent my own family for living in a sad state of denial, but I do believe I owe it to my children to offer them more than a rolling of the eyes or a sad tsk tsk.