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Research and advice suggests that delaying drinking is always the best choice for young people. If that doesn’t work for your situation, there are other things you can do.

Kia tū pakari, kia tū rangatira, hei raukura mō tō whānau.

Be a high achiever who exemplifies the hopes and aspirations of your whānau.

Kaitiakitanga: be a guardian and protector

We see healthy, happy children as essential for our whānau to thrive. As a kaitiaki and protector, you have a role to play in the relationship between your tamariki, rangatahi, mokopuna and alcohol.

A lot of people are first introduced to alcohol from someone in their whānau. Your tamariki and mokopuna will see what is acceptable behaviour by watching you. Aim to be a positive influence. How you drink can affect your child’s habits. 

"As we were growing up, we were allowed to drink at the age of twelve. My dad… he would rather us drink alcohol and not smoke cigarettes."
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Listen to Lynn's kōrero

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Lead by example if you do drink around whānau. Show them what low-risk drinking looks like by setting clear rules that you can follow and explain. 

If you want to talk to your whānau about drinking, you can cover:

  • what the limits are and why they are important
  • what happens when the rules are broken and how will you deal with them
  • family values and expectations around friends or whānau.

Approaching the subject with our rangatahi can be more challenging. If you choose to do this, keep in mind that many teenagers face a lot of social pressure and are trying to find a sense of belonging. Take time to understand their views. Listen and talk with aroha as much as you can.

Pukumahara: be cautious

Te Hiringa Hauora provides the following advice:

  • for people under 18, the safest option is not drinking at all
  • for people aged 15-17, the safest option is to delay drinking for as long as possible

Delaying or avoiding drinking can go a long way to preventing risks for young people: 

  • Alcohol has impacts on brain development for people under 20
  • Young people have a lower tolerance and are at higher risk of hurting themselves when intoxicated
  • The younger a person is when they start drinking, the more likely they are to drink harmfully later in life

Some people feel that introducing teenagers to drinking can teach them responsibility, but providing alcohol can be seen by a young person as giving approval. Research also shows that parents supplying alcohol can double someone’s chances of becoming a risky drinker.

"I do not want my mokos to ever see me in a state that I used to be in, never. It’s about that generational cycle of stopping it, and if they don’t see their nan doing it, they won’t have one of those memories."
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Listen to Ainsley's kōrero

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In Aotearoa, the law states that people under 18 need to:

  • be actively supervised by an adult if alcohol is being served
  • get consent from their parent or legal guardian to be given alcohol
  • not drink if they are driving at all; the alcohol limit for under 20s is zero.

The reality is that we often see alcohol at hui, celebrations and gatherings. It’s also part of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, so it can be hard to simply keep young people away from it. 

You are directly responsible for the actions of the person you’re looking after, so if there’s alcohol, it’s best to make sure it’s within a safe environment. This includes:

  • Having lots of food and water available 
  • The presence of a sober adult responsible for supervision
  • Making sure people under 18 are not exceeding the adult daily drinking limit
  • The host being clear about the time, place, supervision, and transport

If anyone gives you a hard time about this, be open about why you’re doing it. It’s not a trust issue. It is simply the law, and you’re looking out for the safety of the future generations of your whānau.

Alcohol and your kids booklet

This booklet provides information for parents and caregivers on alcohol and their teenager. You can view, order, or download it on the Alcohol and your Kids resources page.