Part of our Why when we decided to do this was forced closeness with our kids. We wanted to be in small spaces with them, experiencing hard and challenging and beautiful things all at the same time.
We wanted more organic opportunities to talk to our kids about important subjects in ways that wouldn’t feel like mom and dad lecturing them.
The front seat of an F350 is spacious as far as truck bench seats go. There’s plenty of room for Scott, our 10 year old son Kendall, and me. Of course, “spacious” is relative, and that space the 3 of us have shared for the last 6 months can feel cramped every now and then. We have no choice but to be in each other’s space, and Kendall has no choice but to be in the literal middle of our conversations.
I’ve been working with Responsibility.org on Baby Rabies as part of their Talk Early team for a couple years, and I am so honored and thrilled they are now including me on their Ask, Listen, Learn team (aimed at parents of tweens- teens) to bring their message to this platform. This post is part of a paid ambassadorship.
When they asked me to talk about how this lifestyle has helped us have open and honest conversations with Kendall about alcohol use, I knew exactly the moment I wanted to share.
We have a Happy Loud Life Spotify playlist. Some of the songs remind us of our journey, some we like to sing along to, and some are just fun to listen to. About a month ago we found ourselves having an easy conversation with Kendall about alcohol abuse and binge drinking when Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” came on. (It’s one of the few songs all 3 big kids like.)
At the time, it was being widely reported that Avicii died from complications caused by alcohol abuse, but it’s now known that he committed suicide. He did have acute pancreatitis in 2012, caused by excessive alcohol use.
I think it’s important to note that when we talk to our kids about these things, we don’t use terms like “If you EVER,” or “We expect better from you,” or anything threatening or dismissive.
We talk instead about the science behind a lot of things- in this case WHY binge drinking does damage and to what parts of your body.
We talked about what responsible alcohol use would look like- after age 21, a drink or two with a meal or while hanging out with friends. But mostly we ASKED Kendall what HE thought. How did he feel hearing this news? What would he do if he thought a friend was going to physically be hurt by the amount of alcohol they consumed?
And we really listened.
We’ve been having conversations about alcohol use for years, especially since I began working with Talk Early. So this is just an extension of that conversation. We’ve moved beyond why mom and dad may have a drink to talking about why his friends may be or may be wanting to drink alcohol, even at the age of 10. And it, so far, is an easy conversation to have. Many times, he’s the one who brings it up.
I don’t know that it will always be that easy, but I think having this foundation of conversations will be crucial, and I’m thrilled that they seem to flourish in this small space.
But what about you? Maybe you don’t live in an RV, you love your big house, and you have no plans to share the front seat of your truck with your kid?
Think about how you can work these conversations into your summer vacations and quiet moments together. It’s never too early or too late to begin talking about responsible alcohol consumption with them.
Just remember it doesn’t have to be a lecture. It doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or uncomfortable. Fortunately/unfortunately our kids are exposed to a lot of media and real life experiences that revolve around alcohol use.
Maybe instead of shielding your kid from that loud and intoxicated group of people next to you at the beach, you use that as a a conversation starter. Maybe when you’re ordering a margarita on vacation, you talk about why you enjoy having a drink with dinner, and you talk about why it’s so important they wait until their brains are physically developed enough before responsibly enjoying alcohol.
BTW, here are a ton of awesome resources to arm yourself with in advance.
Are you already having these conversations? I’d love to know about a time it felt easy to talk about this with your kid.
Thanks to Responsibility.org for sponsoring this post and continuing to work with me. I’m such a proud ambassador. I truly think this program is changing and saving lives.
Like you, I let the conversations happen organically. With my (now 21yo) son, we noticed quite early on that he found it easier to approach me rather than his dad with questions so I let kind of let it be known that there was nothing he couldn’t ask me. It certainly made life interesting! There were quite a few nights where he would come wake me up in distress because he had a nocturnal erection and didn’t know why his penis was hurting him. That was actually the most difficult one, as I certainly didn’t know any better than him what to do about it lol. But we sure have had our share of “uncomfortable” conversations – topics that made one or other of us uncomfortable discussing but we talked through it until we were satisfied with the answer. I guess my rule of thumb has always been that if my children are old enough to have a question to bring me, they deserved an (age-appropriate) honest answer. Fun times 🙂
Well, that sounds like an adventure! 😀 But seriously, good for you! It won’t always be easy or comfortable for us, I’m sure, but I really hope we can keep an open dialogue with all of the kids as they grow. Thanks for chiming in!
Completely agree, treat your children like competent beings who observe and listen to everything adults do.
Interesting read. I never forced my kids to talk to me about stuff they didn’t want to talk, but I always tried to make it clear that I was there for them for whatever they needed me for. I always drew the line between parent and kid, were not friends but love is unconditional. I would provide whatever tools they needed to make sure they could get through tough times. Fortunately, they trusted me to talk about difficult matters.