Excessive alcohol consumption: ready for the holiday hangover?

Excessive alcohol consumption: ready for the holiday hangover?
© iStock/SaraBerdon

According to University of Michigan, USA, parents are not prepared for ‘parenting hangovers’ this holiday season – is it time to reduce excessive alcohol consumption?

Excessive alcohol consumption occurs most often during special occasions, and now according to a report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, a quarter of parents of young children who drink alcohol on special occasions do not think about limiting how much they drink or whether they’ll be able to take care of their child the next day.

Excessive alcohol consumption during the holiday season

Poll co-director Sarah Clark explains: “Most parents planning to drink alcoholic beverages on a night out arrange for a designated driver and childcare for the event itself.

“Fewer parents may consider how their alcohol consumption could impact parenting responsibilities to their young children the next day.”

Moreover, three in 10 parents said they know of an adult who may have caused an unsafe situation for their child due to excessive alcohol consumption at a special celebration.

Alcohol affecting parenting the next day

These parents were most concerned that the other adult was too impaired or hung over to supervise their child or to handle a possible emergency, and less commonly that the adult drove with a child while impaired, became violent or out of control in front of the child, or even injured the child.

Another 1 in 12 parents admitted to a prior situation where they may have been too impaired from alcohol to take care of their parenting responsibilities. Roughly the same proportion of mothers and fathers acknowledged a prior lapse in judgment related to alcohol.

“The amount of alcohol consumed can affect parenting the next day,” Clark adds.
“A parent passed out on the couch will not be effective in recognizing and reacting to the everyday safety risks that occur with children.”

Even rare instances of celebrating with alcohol can have serious consequences for children, Clark says.

Reducing excessive alcohol consumption

It has been advised for parents who overindulge in excessive alcohol consumption to switch alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Even if they are not sure whether their alcohol use may impair parenting abilities, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Clark concludes: “If alcohol use may potentially impact their ability to take care of their children the following day, parents may also consider childcare arrangements.

“Having children stay the night at a relative’s home or asking a grandparent to stay overnight are options to ensure young children are in a safe and supervised environment.”

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