Home' Aurora : Aurora April 2013 Contents Snapshots
John Beatty (left), Trish Craven and Florence
Beatty participated in the Lenten Liturgy of
Hope and Healing at Tea Gardens.
Those preparing to become Catholics at
Easter participated with Bishop Bill in the
Lenten Liturgy of Hope and Healing at East
Dr John Falzon, St Vincent de Paul Australia
CEO, presented an appreciation award to
Vincentian John Hakes at the SVdP Dinner.
Speaker Dr John Falzon, Joel Fitzgibbon
MP and MC Robert Moore all enjoyed the St
Vincent de Paul Dinner held at East Maitland to
raise funds for "William's Place".
As many of us are attempting to get into
positive, healthy routines after an Easter
break, and possibly even trying to burn
off some calories from extra chocolate
consumption, it seems apt to reflect on
what a holiday period like Easter involves.
Along with the family, fun, food and general
good times that might come to mind, for
many of us, social events and holidays also
involve some level of alcohol consumption.
It's not a new phenomenon -- in fact it is
often seen as part of our social fabric -- the
'boys at the barbie with a beer' or 'Mum
having a chardie with the girls'. Beyond the
stereotypes though, alcohol consumption
happens at a whole spectrum of levels,
from a family enjoying an occasional
glass of wine with dinner or to toast a
special occasion, to the problematic level
of alcoholism. For a long time, most of
the varied levels of consumption -- apart
from chronic alcoholism -- were viewed
as a perfectly acceptable part of society.
More recently however, binge drinking,
particularly among young people, and the
associated violent behaviour, risky sexual
activity and motor vehicle accidents, have
brought our culture of drinking to the
forefront of media and social research.
While parents have always had to consider
alcohol among the other challenges
associated with their children's transition
into adulthood, they are increasingly facing
the dilemma earlier, and being forced
to consider how they will deal with the
situation for their children. Unfortunately
there are as yet no clear cut answers
for parents, though we now know
enough to make some evidence-based
Parents often cite a 'European approach'
in which children are introduced to small
sips or diluted drinks of alcohol as part
of family meals from quite a young age.
Traditionally, this approach has been
associated with cultures where wine is an
integral part of a meal, but where binge
drinking is less common and drunkenness
is rare. Increasingly, even in these cultures,
binge drinking among youth populations
is rising (Gilligan, Kuntsche, et al., 2012).
An important consideration in taking this
approach is whether in fact the 'European
model' can work when children are
exposed to the Australian culture in which
drinking patterns are very different.
The jury is still out about the potential long-
term risks of allowing children to try alcohol
at home under supervision. While small
amounts of alcohol in such supervised
circumstances are not likely to increase
children's propensity to drink heavily later,
the evidence so far suggests that despite
the best intentions of parents, this practice
doesn't protect children from risky drinking
in other circumstances (Gilligan, Kypri, et
The evidence is clearer regarding allowing
adolescents to drink in unsupervised
circumstances and providing alcohol to
take to parties or to drink outside the home.
It is this type of drinking that is likely to be
associated with risky behaviour, violence
and the dangers that parents fear for their
children. The challenge for parents though,
is how to avoid these situations, or to
protect their children from being exposed
to drinking at supervised or unsupervised
It seems that 'everyone is doing it', which
can make it particularly challenging for
parents to take a stand against drinking or
attending parties. Many parents remember
the social pressure from their own teenage
years -- the desire to conform and to be
accepted by peers. This memory is fresh
enough and real enough to make it really
difficult to force their children to be different
or to prevent them from being part of
social activities. Not wanting children to
be 'socially outcast' is the driver for many
parents who allow drinking or at least turn a
blind eye to it (Gilligan & Kypri, 2012).
With our busy lifestyles and long work
hours, as well as the large year groups that
are the norm in many high schools, it is
difficult for parents to have any connection
or relationship with the parents of their
children's friends. Often the requests to
go to parties or social events come from
friends or peers whose parents have never
met personally. While this is a perfectly
understandable situation, whenever
parents are getting messages about what
their friends are doing or what their friends'
parents allow from their children alone, with
no direct connection between the parents,
a game of 'Chinese whispers' is going on.
It is unlikely that parents are receiving an
entirely accurate story in this way.
We are starting to generate evidence that
parents tend to think that other parents
are more liberal than they are themselves,
and that such a view is associated with
an increased likelihood of providing
adolescents with alcohol. Perhaps then, it's
parents who are prone to social pressure --
to some extent conforming with what they
think is the norm.
It seems that one simple approach to
helping parents tackle these challenges
is to talk to each other. Finding time to do
that can be challenging, and after-hours
parent events at school are difficult to fit
into the family diary. Technology and social
media offer ways for parents to 'talk' in the
comfort of their own home whenever they
can find time. We have created the Hunter
Parents Alcohol Forum so that parents can
join a closed group to share experience,
ask for advice and find out how others are
dealing with similar situations. The forum is
also a way of sharing existing information
and resources with parents. The discussion
group provides parents with an opportunity
to share views and ideas, in a private,
accessible and respectful environment.
Parents of children aged 13-17 attending
schools in the Hunter can become involved
in our research and have their input heard
by completing an online survey and/or
joining the private Facebook group (so your
kids can't see what is being discussed).
Those not part of this demographic can still
show support by liking our Facebook page.
We are also available on Twitter
Being a parent of an adolescent is not easy
but you're not alone!
Gilligan, C., Kuntsche, E., and Gmel, G. (2012).
Adolescent Drinking Patterns Across Countries:
Associations with Alcohol Policies. Alcohol and
Gilligan, C., and Kypri, K. (2012). Parent attitudes,
family dynamics and adolescent drinking: qualitative
study of the Australian parenting guidelines for
adolescent alcohol use. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 491.
Gilligan, C., Kypri, K., Johnson, N., Lynagh, M.,
and Love, S. (2012). Parental supply of alcohol
and adolescent risky drinking. Drug Alcohol Rev,
BY DR CONOR GILLIGAN
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
Alcohol is 'part of our social fabric'.
How can we protect our kids from its harms?
Links Archive Aurora March 2013 Aurora May 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page