Vol2.4 December 2015

Sweet, Spicy, and Nutty

We hope this season finds you set to celebrate with quiet moments inside at home, adventures or vacations far away, or a combination of the two. We hope you cherish the ages and stages of your children and the seasonal opportunities for time together.

In this edition, we encourage parents to start talking about the harmful effects of alcohol on little brains and bodies with their younger kids- aged 8-12 years old. In a season with plenty of opportunities for social drinking, we want to raise awareness of what messages we send our kids with our own adult drinking. Our intention is to raise awareness, encourage involvement and share helpful resources.

We wanted to start off however with a holiday treat recipe for a party mix. It's sweet, spicy, and a little nutty, just like our kids. We hope it adds to your season!

-The Parent Up Team

Sweet and Spicy Party Mix

8 cups Crispex or Chex cereal

1 cup pecans

1 cup pretzels any size

1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13in baking dish.
  2. Pour the cereal, pecans, pepper, and pretzels into a 3-qt mixing bowl and toss to mix.
  3. In a small saucepan, begin melting the butter over medium high heat.
  4. Stir in brown sugar and bring mix to a boil.
  5. Cook at moderate boil for 1 minute.
  6. Remove from heat, and pour at once over cereal mix. Toss lightly to coat.
  7. Pour cereal mix into baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 8 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, stir gently, then continue to bake for 8 minutes more.
  9. Remove and allow to cool in the pan for 45 minutes.
  10. Keeps up to 2 weeks in an airtight container or tin.

Parenting Young Kids- Example, Influence, and Conversations

For parents of grade school children, the need to talk about avoiding alcohol and drug use can feel like a long ways off. While it is true that the pressure to drink with their friends, start using drugs, or hide substance-use behavior from their parents, is not a daily struggle for 8-12 year olds, they are still exposed to drugs and alcohol and forming their opinions early.

Elementary school kids watch their parents. Research proves the more exposure kids have to adult drinking, the more they associate it with what is common for normal social hang outs. Caution, care, and awareness for parents is necessary.

Parent Up does not want to encourage adults to hide drinks from their kids, nor suggest adult behavior change, instead, only to point to the necessity of having a conversation with 8-12 year old kids.

What might that conversation look like?

Elementary school kids are beginning to comprehend cause and effect realities. They are starting to know that certain behaviors lead to correlated consequences.

Shape a conversation about alcohol with your kids around a simple cause and effect story. Tell kids their brains are growing every day in many different ways. When their brain takes in information from hearing words, reading books, or seeing neat things with their eyes, their brain processes it all, stores the good stuff, and grows bigger and bigger.

Then tell them alcohol slows that process down and stops their brain from growing bigger and smarter. Have them imagine they are building with Legos and someone pours sticky syrup all over their Lego creation. They would not be able to build as well as before. Alcohol is like sticky syrup that wrecks what smart brains are starting to build.

Tell them drinking before their brain reaches adulthood--around 21-25 years, could stop the healthy growing of their brain that is trying to get smart, make good decisions, learn lots of facts, think great ideas, and stay safe.

When they understood the danger of alcohol comes from having it too early in life, or drinking too much, kids can hold onto both their experiences of parents, who drink themselves, but also have strong rules that no one in their family drinks until they are 21.

A Mental Poll

Parent Up does not attempt to regulate responsible adult use of alcohol, but encourages adults to be mindful of the influence adults have with their words and actions in front of children.

Take this quick mental poll to gauge your kids' exposure to adult alcohol consumption:

1. Do your kids know the names of different brands from TV commercials, your glass recycling bin, or beer fridge?

2. Have your kids ever been around adult drunkenness?

3. Do the adults in your house consume alcohol at meal time more than 2-3 times a week?

4. Are there other, non-alcoholic, drinks offered to adults at mixed age parties or gatherings?

5. Do you talk about drinking in a prescriptive way around your kids, ie: "Whew, I had a hard day at work. I really need a beer tonight."

If you want to talk to your upper elementary or middle school kid, here are a couple more tips:

Praise your child for taking good care of their bodies and avoiding things that might harm them.

Explain why adults may drink alcohol but children may not, even in small amounts-it’s harmful to children’s developing brains and bodies.

Talk to your child about the dangers and side effects of alcohol. Explain that alcohol is different than food and other drinks. Let your child know that people who drink too much alcohol get sick and throw up. Explain that too much alcohol can make some people stressed, angry and violent.

Watch TV with your children. When alcohol or drugs is brought up, ask them what they know and feel about alcohol.

Set clear rules. Make sure your child knows your expectations and the consequences.

Be a role model. If you drink alcohol, be mindful of the message you are sending to your children. Do not involve your children in adult behaviors (restrict them from touching, sipping, fetching, or mixing alcohol).

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