Moderate drinking during the pandemic is OK. Here’s how to know if your habit has crossed into the official definition of “excessive.” (Jennifer Bardsley)

Moderate drinking during the pandemic is OK. Here’s how to know if your habit has crossed into the official definition of “excessive.” (Jennifer Bardsley)

Heavy drinking during pandemic sends kids a bad message

Parents drinking to excess may be teaching their children that when the going gets tough, it’s time to hit the bottle.

Children learn from our actions, and right now, some parents across America are teaching their kids that heavy drinking is an appropriate way to deal with stress.

If you’re one of those parents, put down your wineglass and step away from the cocktail shaker. You are better than this.

Sure, if the situation were only temporary, heavy drinking might be considered an appropriate coping mechanism. But this isn’t a sprint — it’s a marathon. When children see you drink excessively every single evening, or even during the daytime, they grow up thinking that such behavior is normal. It’s not.

According to health.gov, “high-risk drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women and 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week for men.” High-risk drinking also includes binge drinking, which is the “consumption within about 2 hours of 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men.”

If you and your spouse are going through a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer every night during this pandemic, then you’ve reached the government definition of “excessive drinking,” and it’s not OK.

You might tell yourself it’s OK. Your Facebook friends might post funny memes about surviving the stay-home order with coffee in one hand and vodka in the other, but that doesn’t mean your children deserve to be cared for by an adult with a heavy drinking habit.

It’s not just about the present, either, it’s about the future. Is this the survival skill you want to teach your children? When life becomes unbearably difficult, turn to booze?

Even if they don’t develop future problems with alcohol, you’re putting them at risk for a host of other issues that may require them to seek help from Al-Anon someday; issues like fearing criticism, constantly needing approval, difficulty with relationships and feeling responsible for the actions of others.

Let’s talk about money, too, because we’re facing Great Depression levels of unemployment. Is spending excessive funds on alcohol a good idea? Which choice will make your family safer: having extra cash in the bank, or having empty bottles in the recycling bin?

If money’s not a problem, think about all of the other stress-management tools an extra $30 to $50 per week could purchase. That quickly adds up to $1,050 to $2,600 a year, which is enough money to buy an online fitness membership and a massage chair.

Go for a walk. Brew a cup of tea. Take a hot shower. Pet your dog. Lock yourself in the coat closet with a flashlight and read a paperback novel. Call your friend. Watch TV. If you’ve tried all those things and still feel that liquor is the answer, it may be time to seek professional help.

COVID-19 had taken important things from all of us, but don’t let sobriety be one of them.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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