Drinking alcohol is part of the Australian culture, so it can be a difficult decision to be a non-drinker. However choosing not to drink is your decision, and one that should be supported. You shouldn’t feel the need to make excuses or justify your decision to anyone.
Out-casting adults that chose not to drink alcohol sets a risky example for impressionable teens.
Teenagers look to their parents and other adults as role models to help them develop socially acceptable attitudes and behaviours.
They are on the brink of adulthood and one of the dilemmas they face is the social pressure to drink. Teens feel vulnerable as they shift from parental security into peer bonding and reliance.
You can be certain that making fun of non-drinkers will leave its mark. The last thing any teen would risk is being isolated or ridiculed by their peers. Not drinking is an option for teens but it’s rarely discussed. Unfortunately, many young people who choose not to drink don’t talk about their choice and feel isolated from the drinking culture that surrounds them.
Tips to help change your non-drinking attitudes:
- Examine your own values. Do you rate non-drinkers as outcasts? If you do, ask yourself why – and address it. Kids often pick up on our emotions, attitudes and tone more than just what we say.
- Try non-alcoholic alternatives. Let your kid know that there are other alternatives and that alcohol doesn’t have to be part of every social gathering – and remember to lead by example.
- Highlight non-drinking examples. Many Australians have never tried alcohol or are ex-drinkers. If you have a friend or relative who has chosen not to drink, let your kids hear their story.
- Talk to family and friends. Sometimes people make jokes about non-drinkers. Remind them that this is inappropriate, and the impact it can have on your kids.
Don’t be afraid to air your disapproval. If a friend puts down a non-drinker, ensure you kids hear your disapproval, either by challenging the critic or talking to them about afterwards. This should help open up discussion and let your kids know it’s OK to say no to drinking.
DrinkWise - Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix brochure