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Expert: Better for parents to talk about alcohol with kids sooner rather than later

Parents are a big influence on children. So when it comes to alcohol, experts believe a conversation about drinking is better sooner than later. (WSYX/WTTE)

PATASKALA, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Parents are a big influence on children. So when it comes to alcohol, experts believe a conversation about drinking is better sooner than later.

Some parents lock it up, some leave it out, while other moms and dads just don't have any alcohol around the house. If they do, children are watching and learning.

"Children start to really form opinions and attitudes about alcohol as early as age 9," said OhioHealth Psychiatrist Megan Schabbing.

Dr. Schabbing said it's important parents talk to children about alcohol and have the conversation early.

"It's kind of a matter of they don't know what to say, they don't know when to say it," said Dr. Schabbing.

Dr. Schabbing said keep the conversation brief and in an open forum that's not threatening.

"You know, if you were to drink and you get caught you could wind up having a permanent criminal record," said Dr. Schabbing.

Jean Glagola has always had an open relationship with her children.

"I would rather they learn anything and everything from us than from some outside source," said Glagola.

Glagola said she grew up with alcohol around her and the freedom to try it.

"I can remember going on vacation to Atlantic City being 8 or 10 years old and my mom would say 'do you want to try the pina colada?'" said Glagola.

Glagola brought the same philosophy into her own home.

"If they wanted to try it, they could try it," said Glagola.

Glagola's two children are now adults, but has built the same open relationship with her stepchildren, a 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.

"He can't wait till he's old enough to drink because he likes the different flavor of beer, but it's not forbidden. It's not a big secret," said Glagola.

Dr. Schabbing advises against allowing children to sample alcohol.

"You want them to think in their minds it's not okay to drink under age," said Dr. Schabbing.

Glagola says her children understand drinking is an adult activity that comes with the responsibilities and consequences.

"I'm sure there are other children it doesn't work with, you have to take another avenue for that, but I think for most kids if you're honest with them and practice what you preach, they'll see that," said Glagola.

Dr. Schabbing suggests finding a natural way to bring up the conversation, one that could be related to your own behaviors.

If you'd like more information on how to start the discussion, there are resources that offer recommendations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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