Parental Responsibility

Grandparents: Use Your Influence To Keep Your Grandkids Safe

Grandfather with his arm around his grandson.

You’re in the perfect position to protect your grandkids from the harms of alcohol

There’s a special bond between you and your grandchild. You love each other. You trust each other. Your grandchild looks up to you and knows they can talk to you about anything. And they know that you’re always looking out for their best interests.

You’re also a respected and key part of your grandkid’s circle of influence. Together, with your grandchild’s parents, you can collaborate on an approach to talk with your grandchild about alcohol and keep them from drinking underage.

How can you help guide your grandchild toward a safe and healthy future?

Know the facts

Alcohol and underage drinking are complicated topics. Knowing the facts will help you simplify them for conversations with your grandchild and prepare you to answer questions they may have.

As a grandparent, both the short-term and long-term effects alcohol can have on a child should be cause for your concern. Your grandchild’s brain will continue to grow and mature until they are in their mid-20s. Underage drinking can delay its development and cause future physical, psychological and social harm.

Learn more about the dangers of alcohol so you can help your grandchild steer clear of its harmful effects.

Begin talking early

Many grandparents are surprised to hear that 1 in 3 kids has tried alcohol by the age of 8.

By age 12, that number becomes 2 in 3 kids. This is a good reason for you to talk with your grandchild so you can help keep them out of harm’s way by making it clear that they should have no alcohol, no way. Not even a sip on a special occasion or at a family gathering.

So, when is the best age to begin talking with your grandchild about alcohol? There’s research that says between the ages of 8 and 11 is when kids are most receptive to discussing and understanding this type of complex topic. It’s also an age where your conversations will “stick” and help them form the right attitudes toward alcohol.

Because your grandchild respects you, they’ll listen to you. And ultimately, that becomes a key factor in whether or not they choose to try alcohol.

Find the right moments

As a grandparent, you cherish the moments spent with your grandkids. And each adventurous outing or fun get-together presents opportunities to talk with them about alcohol. In fact, any time you’re one-on-one with your grandchild can be transformed into a teaching moment.

Check out some ideas on how to jumpstart a conversation about underage drinking with your grandchild.

Surround your grandchildren with love — and a full circle of support.

  • Bookmark the Know When. Know How.℠ website on your smartphone or computer, then easily access the facts about alcohol and underage drinking whenever you need them.
  • Look for ways to forge and maintain positive relationships with your grandchild’s circle of influencers. Share the Know When. Know How.℠ website with them to keep the entire family on the same page and working together as a team.
  • Explore resources to help you become familiar with key messages about alcohol, the dangers of underage drinking and how to engage in effective conversations about the topic with your grandkids.
Illustration of a dinner party with a kid holding a glass of wine.

2 in 5 PA parents find it acceptable for kids to drink alcohol on "special occasions"

About the same percentage of parents (37%) believe it’s natural for children to experiment with alcohol and trust their child to experiment responsibly.

Tip: To help your child avoid the risks associated with alcohol, it’s important to learn the facts. It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol – regardless of the situation. And children who begin drinking at an early age can be four times more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life.

Dear Parent

Be patient and take small steps. The topic is complex and you don’t want to overwhelm your child.