Fears over parents drinking more around children

Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
Australian parents have increased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19 lockdown.
Camera IconAustralian parents have increased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19 lockdown.

South West parents have been urged consider the impacts of their drinking habits, after new data found Australian parents have been consuming more alcohol around children while in isolation.

The data, released on Friday by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, was based on a poll of 1000 Australian parents and found more than one in four had increased their alcohol intake.

Impressionable children aged nine to 12 years old were the most exposed to drinking, after 23 per cent of parents of this age group said they had consumed alcohol in front of their children daily or every other day during lockdown.

Bunbury psychologist Jay Anderson said regular drinking around children could affect them in different ways depending on the context of the situation.

“The context of the situation can vary, and this is what has impacts on children and family systems,” Mrs Anderson said.

If parents are drinking alcohol in moderation and in appropriate ways then it could help children have an understanding of boundaries and self-monitoring, particularly if they follow recommended guidelines and share this information with their children.

Jay Anderson

Mrs Anderson said the issues arose when the drinking habit became addictive.

“This is more likely to have ongoing impacts on both the parent and child,” Mrs Anderson said.

“The affects of a parent drinking alcohol frequently on a child can be wide ranging, and for many children will also likely include family dysfunction, emotional abuse and possibly physical abuse.

“Life for a child in this situation can be chaotic and unpredictable.”

ADF chief executive Erin Lalor said it was concerning that more than one quarter of Australian parents had increased their alcohol consumption in lockdown.

“Parents may have been drinking in isolation, but they haven’t been drinking alone,” Dr Lalor said.

Some children have seen their parents’ occasional alcoholic drink turn into a daily ritual.

Erin Lalor

“It is important to understand that exposure to regular or excessive drinking can influence children’s attitudes and future behaviours around alcohol, alongside increasing the parent’s risk of accidents, injuries, dependence and diseases.”

Mrs Anderson recommended alternative methods of dealing with stress, such as seeking counselling with a psychologist and taking part in physical activity.

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