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Your Moderate Drinking Could Be Giving Kids Anxiety

Photograph by Twenty20

It's normal to want to unwind after a long day, but a new study suggests that you might want to think twice before refilling that wine glass if you have kids. The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) reports that three out of 10 parents have been drunk in front of their children, while half of them admit to being "tipsy."

The findings from the U.K.-based organization serves as a warning to parents about alcohol consumption by addressing the impact it has on children. It turns out, even having a couple of drinks in front of your kids can leave them feeling worried or embarrassed.

"We know some children become very anxious when their parents use alcohol in ways that lead to uncertain, unusual or unpredictable behavior," said Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England. "In my view, the best way to make that judgment, as in lots of areas to do with children, is ask them, listen to what they say and act accordingly."

According to the report, which was based on a survey of 997 adults and their children around the U.K., 29 percent of parents believed it was acceptable to get drunk in front of their children "as long as it didn't happen often."

Recently, The Guardian summed up some other key findings relative to the study, and some of them are a bit disturbing. For example, 15 percent of children have reportedly asked their parents to drink less, while 12 percent said their parents paid them less attention because of their drinking.

15 percent of children have reportedly asked their parents to drink less.

Need more proof?

The survey showed that 16 percent of parents have felt guilty or ashamed of their parenting as a result of their drinking. But the most upsetting remark came from the 11- and 12-year-olds, who described alcohol as “like sugar for adults” and said that parents drink to “solve their problems."

The message is consistent throughout the entire report: Parents need to be more aware of how drinking alcohol around children—even in small amounts—can negatively impact their lives.

Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary in England, is no stranger to substance abuse. In fact, he has spoken about his own father’s death as a result of drinking and is eager for something to change.

"Children are incredibly perceptive of their parent’s drinking habits, and this analysis must serve as a wakeup call to the government," Ashworth said. "This crucial report highlights that even non-dependent parental drinking has serious health implications on children and families."

So, the next time you're sitting at the dining room table with your kids, debating on whether to open that bottle of wine or not, remember that those curious little eyes staring back at you are impressionable—and they never stop watching.

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