Experts propose ways to educate, introduce and pass on the wisdom about smoking and alcohol to the next generation.
Recently, singer and activist Melissa Ethiridge opened up about her habit of smoking cannabis with her family. The 55-year-old singer started using the herb when she was going through chemotherapy and is now trying to break the stigma around the drug. Melissa revealed that she smokes with her adult children, 20-year-old Bailey and 18-year-old Beckett, to take the ‘naughtiness’ out of it.
It’s more about educating and acquainting the child to it rather than introducing them to alcohol or smoking, asserts life coach Khyati Birla. “I think it depends upon the kind of family background you come from, whether the parents smoke or drink and if they want their children to be ‘educated’ about it. It’s a part of the growing up and children need to be aware of what is out there once they are out of their cocoons,” Khyati says.
The right time to acquaint the children is at an age where they are capable of coming to a solution-based perspective feels psychologist Kinjal Pandya. “Children often resort to vices when they are anxious and restless and think that alcohol or drugs would calm them down. It is important to assert the fact firmly that these are not options one can resort to when low but should be taken occasionally for recreation. This can happen only after the kid is past the adolescence age,” says Kinjal.
For 23-year-old Japu Vilsa, it is a way to assure her mother that she is a responsible drinker. She shares, “I always have a few bottles of wine stored in the fridge at home. And while my mother doesn’t drink, she doesn’t have a problem with me drinking in her presence. I get the bottle out on some special family dinner nights, and my sister and I share a few glasses while all of us chat and have a good time. I think it is easier for my mum to see me drinking at home and she feels secure about me handling my intake.”
It is also important to keep your child aware and informed. “The child should know how it feels to be high or sick, just in case if someone spikes their drink or they feel uncomfortable or dizzy. When they drink with their parents they know if something goes wrong, they can always have them to look to, contrary to the times when they fall in trouble due to a mishap and their parents might be caught unaware of their habits,” adds Khyati.
When Nitin Sharma introduced his son to beer at the age of 18, he knew he was doing the right thing, “It’s important to have these conversations with your children because ultimately, you know you can’t shield your children away from these things. When we shared a few pints together, there was a sense of comfort that developed and now my son knows what is too much and where to draw the line. He won’t shy away from openly discussing things with me,” says Nitin.