Underage drinking – talking to children about alcohol

Whenever I am nursing a hangover, moaning and groaning and complaining about feeling sick, I like to think that I am teaching my children a valuable lesson about what not to do when it comes to alcohol. I am kidding myself of course, but with a hangover you need something to feel good about.

Is seeing me lying forlornly on the sofa going to be enough to put them off underage drinking though and if not, does that really matter?

There is a bit of a misconception that underage drinking is just one of those things that all teens go through, a silly and often messy phase that although worrying as a parent, is relatively harmless in the long term. When I look back on my teenage drinking experiences I certainly don’t do it with a great deal of angst. If anything, they are fond memories; ‘Ah, remember that night when we thought it would be fun to see if we could drink ourselves into a coma?’ Happy days.

My teenage drinking years were curtailed by becoming pregnant at 16 – not a drinking related accident – but nothing awful ever happened to me. Sure, I did ‘accidentally’ get off with a second cousin, I may have wet myself in a field once, and I’m sure my teeth have never really recovered from having me open Diamond White bottles with them, but in the grand scheme of things those are hardly disasters.

As Belle approaches the dreaded teenage years then I’ve been thinking more about all of those new things I’m going to have to worry about and I decided to talk to her about alcohol and what she perceived as the risks. I knew she would be pretty savvy as she has been known to raise the odd eyebrow when I’ve dared to pour a second glass of wine of an evening.

Know the risks

So other than tooth enamel damage, what really are the risks associated with underage drinking? Is it just a normal teenage phase or are the consequences more serious than you might think? I paid a visit to the Drinkaware website and learnt some rather scary facts about underage drinking:

  • Nearly 4000 children were hospitalised with alcohol poisoning last year
  • Research shows that even getting drunk just once is associated with an increased risk of teenage pregnancy
  • Compared to non-drinkers, underage drinkers are more likely to smoke tobacco, use cannabis or use other hard drugs
  • Evidence reveals that children who start to drink by age 13 are more likely to go on to have worse grades, to skip school and, in the worst case scenario, to be excluded from school
  • Being drunk just once under 16 years old makes you 85% more likely to be involved in violence

Not exactly harmless fun is it?

Find out more

Drinkaware will be hosting two webinars on 27th November and 10th December for parents to learn more about the risks associated with drinking underage and how to have effective conversations with your child about alcohol, and to ask any questions on issues surrounding underage drinking.

Register now to take part:

Webinar on 27/11/14 on the risks associated with underage drinking
Webinar on 10/12/14 on how to address the issue of alcohol with your child and how to have effective conversations with them

Do you think that you and your children are clued up about the dangers of underage drinking? Did any of the facts I found surprise you?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through the Mumsnet Blogger Network to help raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking.



  1. 23 November, 2014 / 5:23 pm

    Important topic, and one that those of us that might have been a little loose and free in our teen years regarding alcohol, struggle with as parents when asked tough questions back. I try to be honest, but not to the point that there is any senses of condoning.

  2. 15 April, 2021 / 5:25 am

    Really important tips that every parents can follow through in guiding their children about alcohol intake.

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