For months I have been seeing the “Talk to Your Children About Alcohol” commercials, and while I recognize that they do bring a topic to light that often gets overlooked – I don’t feel that they accurately portray the issue.

They show a mom putting earrings and a corsage on her daughter presumable for prom but then the mother starts crying and they show the daughter in a coffin.

Another shows a father mashing up some bananas and talking to his child in baby talk, and then shows him feeding his adult son who has brain damage.

While I obviously agree that this is a topic that needs to be talked about, I feel like the commercials put the blame on alcohol when the real problem is the poor decisions that are made around alcohol. There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks once you are of age, and I don’t even think it is bad to let younger adults and teenagers have a drink at home occasionally. I think that the bigger deal you make out of it, the more kids are likely to make stupid mistakes. If you let your kids have a few drinks it removes the mystery and makes them less likely to sneak around and do it because they don’t feel like it’s a big deal. In Europe you don’t see teenagers drinking to excess because it has never been this substance that has been kept from them, so when they come of age it isn’t a big deal.

I think the commercials should focus more on making better decisions around alcohol – not drinking in excess, not drinking and driving – not just that alcohol itself leads to brain damage or death. I get that alcohol can lead to poor decisions that have very negative consequences, but the alcohol itself isn’t necessarily responsible for that. I don’t think that shaming someone into thinking alcohol is this horrible that will kill them if they drink it is the right message to send – it’s overly dramatic and just isn’t true. Media has the power to speak to millions of people, so you want to make sure you are sending an accurate message.

Emma vanBree


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