So many things about growing up only truly hit home when you become a parent yourself.
You find yourself looking back on your own memories as a teenager with a sudden necw perspective – what I must have put my parents through?
And then the next realisation hits you even harder – how am I going to handle that as a parent?!
My daughter is 16. She is bright, sensible and kind. She is similar to me, but also so different.
I’m an extrovert, and I often share my thoughts out loud before I’ve fully processed them. My daughter is thoughtful, calm and much more interested in outward things – the environment, global politics, flaws in the systems she sees all around her as she explores them, information at the touch of her fingertips.
I look back at myself at her age and I was so self-absorbed. My world consisted of schools, parties, boys, gossip, music, drama and friendships. We had more freedom, but less access to information. I was in such a rush to grow up; my daughter takes her time to learn about the world she has been born into.
I love watching her evolve into the gorgeous young woman she is becoming.
But I sometimes worry about the choices she will make. Will she feel pressure to put herself in situations she isn’t ready for? Can I be confident about the decisions she will make when I am not there to guide her?
And yet with everything in our household of two, I realise there’s a lot I can do just by setting the right example.
In fact, when it comes to alcohol, I think I’ve been subconsciously setting an example for my daughter over the last few years.
When your kids are little, you might think they’re not studying you with a critical eye, but they are in fact absorbing your attitudes and behaviours. The research is clear that kids form their attitudes and behaviours about alcohol, long before they have their first drink.
As kids become teenagers, they may challenge their parents about their drinking behaviours. But the best thing we can do as parents is to model the right behaviour at home.