Have a drink at Christmas – but take it easy in front of the kids

I was in the pub with my daughter over the weekend enjoying my Christmas pint. I had spent the afternoon at the playground and stuck my head in the door on the way home.

People have varying attitudes about kids in pubs, but I take mine the odd time when it’s quiet and I’m one of those people who can have a pint and not have to follow it up with 10 more.

My Yuletide preference is a few moderate drinks during the day, and then I won’t die of a hangover for a week.

But what’s moderate in Ireland, you ask? Moderate drinking to us could be raging alcoholism to others. According to Drinkaware.ie, only 2pc of us can correctly identify the guidelines to how much we should drink – 11 drinks for women, 17 for men per week.

On top of that, Drinkaware.ie found 74pc of us think drinking to excess is “just a part of Irish culture”.

We pride ourselves on spending €6.3bn annually on gargle. It’s what makes us “good craic”, compared to the insufferable boredom other nationalities bring to the table.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the odd hangover, or mummy enjoying a few cream liqueurs in a cosy hotel lobby catching up with friends.

But how much is too much when it comes to drinking with children around?

Gerry Hickey, a psychotherapist based in Dublin, says: “Children are influenced by your drinking. Absolutely.

“If you think drinking wine with food every night in front of your kids isn’t bad, you may have to think again,” he adds. (It reminds me of my chocolate-eating habits and my daughter’s subsequent chocolate-eating habits.) “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, just be aware that children pick up contradictions in our behaviour.”

That’s not the only thing they pick up on.

According to Hickey, children, from the age of eight, are secretly sipping alcohol from bottles left around the house. “When alcoholics are asked when they took their first drink, they’ll often say it was around Christmas time in their family home, when their parents left booze standing around the house, while socialising.”

Out of every 10 people drinking, three are problem drinkers, Hickey says, and according to Alcohol Action, one in 11 children are affected negatively by their parents’ drinking.

We live in judgmental times, when giving your teenager some Advocaat on their ice cream in public could be deemed the same as offering them a crack pipe, but the biggest issue for kids is being around problem drinkers.

Many Irish people have alcoholics hanging from every branch of their family tree, so Christmas can be a nightmare.

It’s up to adults to know best how to handle alcohol in front of their kids.

The crux is those who drink too much, don’t think they drink too much.

Besides that, I suggest not giving your child the foam off your Guinness and keep drunk dancing to a minimum in front of kids. Remember mortification isn’t just for Christmas!Original article in the Irish Independent here