“What’s that?” She asks.
“It’s Mami juice, baby. You can’t have any.” I respond.
“And there’s daddy juice and Uncle Pete juice and Titi Q juice…” she chimes on.
I smile at her immediate response to categorize. Why did I ever start calling it Mami juice?
It wasn’t until I was at the #TalkEarly summit in the fall that I started asking this question. I had more questions for myself as my fellow influencers spoke around me. I recall Jill, from Baby Rabies, saying how she started paying attention to how she might say she needed a glass of wine after a long day or how she had often shared drink memes without giving it a second thought.
I’ve done the same. I think so many of my friends have. Birds of a feather and all that jazz, right?
It wasn’t until we started talking to Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family, about the way we talk to our kids that I started wondering if I was sending the right message.
Fact: I talk about drinking way more than I actually drink. You see, my dad is an alcoholic. Early on in my adult life, I had this ongoing fear that I’d somehow end up “just like that”. Even then, I always thought I’d known about alcohol. We had strict and lax rules in my house. I say that because it’s not like we could roll up to the fridge and grab a cold one but, I never felt like alcohol was something forbidden. For whatever reason, it felt like I could have a drink if I chose, during special occasions, in my late teens. I never did. I didn’t have my first real drink until I turned 21 (Pina Colada at a bowling alley because I’m fancy!).
Dr. Tsabary spoke about setting the emotional tone in the home and I think that for us, that tone was a little frightening. Having a father that was verbally abusive when he drank made me shrink away from anything that was alcohol related. It made me the designated driver for my college friends. I was okay with that.
She also spoke about connection. Something that I’d always struggled to have with my father. Her quote “How can you seek solace if we don’t feel connected from within” hit me in the chest. I was no longer listening as a parent but I was listening as a child. The emotional disconnection with my dad has been an ever present force. In great part, I’d always felt that chasm had opened further to allow the rivers of alcohol to flow between us.
I think that as parents, we have an amazing connection with The Frog Princess. I’ve talked to her about so many things that I’d never talked to my parents about (y’all, why does she know where babies come from?! WHY?! #sheasked #itoldher).
I loved being reminded about connection with my child. About how being conscious plays out in parenting. So many of these things, I’d noticed or thought of but, Dr. Tsabary really put it into perspective. It’s taken a certain level of consciousness to learn the lessons my parents could not in order to do better by my child.
In all honesty, I thought I had more time to talk about alcohol. Turns out, she’s at the perfect age to begin having these chats. In the same way that I talk to her about her self-esteem, her curly hair, her brown skin, I should be educating her on this topic.
We’ll do it in the same way that we’ve talked about everything else. With honesty and openness. When the #TalkEarly team reached out, I was concerned about how I would talk about this topic. I’m glad that I took the leap and joined the program. I wanted to provide a different point of view. Not only as a parent of an inquisitive girl that asks lots of questions but as the child of an alcoholic who got very few answers.
The #TalkEarly program’s goals are about encouraging parents to create a lifetime of conversations starting with kids as young as 6-9 years old. I’m looking forward to learning and looking forward to bringing you along in this journey.
But, I am not alone. I have the great pleasure of sharing the title of 2017 #TalkEarly blogger with these guys!
In case you missed it, we bonded at the Summit working on this little jam right here. Aren’t they the cutest?
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the Summit. I am integrating it in all aspects of parenting life:
Have you talked to your kids about drinking?