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Many parents realize that when kids become teens, they will at some point be faced with pressure to try alcohol. What many probably don’t realize is that first-time alcohol use among teens follows a pattern and doubles in the months of June and December.


For many, the winter holidays are a time to indulge. Alcohol sales are higher than average, possibly due to the popularity of alcohol as a gift and the tendency to upgrade to a pricier version of many liquors to serve at holiday gatherings.

December is the most popular month to purchase specialty cordials. (One store in Montana reports sales of Baileys triple in December.) These sweeter, sipping beverages are frequently the alcohol of choice for first-time drinkers.

The holiday season also typically brings an increase in social commitments, making parents too busy and distracted to monitor their teens the same way they do at other times of the year.

We know that teens are curious, and many are determined to experiment. Although alcohol is a somewhat controlled substance (limited to those age 21 and over), we live in a society that encourages the use and sometimes the abuse of alcohol. Most social activities include or even revolve around drinking. Many forget that alcohol is a chemical substance. The effects can be very much like those of drugs.

Some parents make the decision to allow their kids to try alcohol, thinking it better to experience its effects in a somewhat controlled environment. This may not be a good idea.

As reported in Science Daily, “In a study of 428 Dutch families, researchers found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home as well.” Not surprisingly, teens who drank often had a higher incidence of problem drinking two years later. “The findings, according to van der Vorst, suggest that teen drinking begets more drinking – and, in some cases, alcohol problems – regardless of where and with whom they drink.”

Though many look to European alcohol regulation (or lack thereof) as a model, a survey of 15- and 16-year-olds in Europe indicate there is more teen drunkenness in Europe than in the US.

Alcohol researcher Caitlin Abar from Pennsylvania State University says, “It really calls into question the strategy that parents are adopting of the European drinking model. The most protective strategy for parents is to make it really clear to their teens that they completely disapprove of underage alcohol use.” Abar states that parents with a zero tolerance policy will not necessarily prevent their kids from drinking, but that these teens tend to drink less.

This is backed up by research

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 80 percent of young people report parents have the greatest influence over whether they drink. SAMHSA’s program, Talk, They Hear You, encourages parents to start talking to their kids as early as age nine about alcohol and the associated dangers.

Noting that when teens drink, they do so excessively, William D. Crano at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA, focused on conditions in adolescence to see whether these conditions could predict teenage alcohol abuse. He found that paying attention to what teens are doing and providing a supportive family environment can go a long way to prevent binge drinking.

Your habits make a difference

Parents’ behavior sends a message to their kids about what is acceptable. While acknowledging that kids will form their own ideas about alcohol, Crano believes that parents should talk about drinking, saying, “You want to be the person to help them.

A study done by Christine Jackson at RTI International in Durham, NC, goes further and suggests that allowing children to taste alcohol at home “simply teaches them that parents don’t mind if they have alcohol.” She adds, “allowing children to have alcohol increases their odds of underage drinking during adolescence.

Instead Jackson advocates a home-based parenting program that promotes an alcohol-free childhood. In a study evaluating such a program, those participating were significantly less likely to drink four years later.

Binge drinking is a real problem

In 1994, Harvard’s Alcohol Study established what is still the definition of a drinking binge: five or more drinks in a row for a man, and four or more for a woman. Binge drinkers of today often have 10 or more drinks in a night. Though the numbers indicate that fewer students are binge drinking, many of these are now doing so to the extreme.

A study published in 2011 in the American Journal of Health Education found that 77 percent of college freshmen “drink to get drunk.” What today’s college student calls being drunk is oftentimes what an expert would define as being in a blackout.

Some scary stats

More than a third of teens have a drink before age 15; almost two thirds have tried it by the time they are 18.

Studies show that those who drink before age 15 are six times more likely to become addicted.

Eleven percent of alcohol consumed in the US is consumed by 12- to 20-year-olds.

Those who engaged in underage binge drinking had higher arrest rates 8 to 14 years later.

According to SAMHSA, those who regularly engage in underage drinking are at a higher risk of using other drugs, engaging in risky behavior (including unprotected sex), doing poorly in school, and having serious health issues such as depression and anxiety.

A UVA study showed that about half of alcohol related deaths among American college students at four-year institutions were caused by drunk driving.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that up to 70 percent of water recreation deaths are also related to alcohol use.

Each year, according to the NIH…

• an estimated 599,000 students are unintentionally injured while under the influence

• an estimated 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking

• an estimated 97,000 students are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape

College students who drink regularly are more likely to miss classes, earn poor grades, or even drop out altogether.

Walking the line between intrusive and aware

If you are the parent of a teenager, you know these conversations can be difficult. Rather than starting with a lecture, ask your teen if he or she has witnessed underage drinking and ask his or her thoughts on the subject. Explain your concerns and make suggestions on how to avoid the pressure to drink.

Pay attention to the messages you give about alcohol. How do you talk about drinking? Do you say you “need a drink” after a hard day at work? Do you drive after having a drink? It is possible, even likely, that your child will ask you why you drink. If you have a complicated relationship with alcohol, this can be a difficult question to answer.

If you are hosting a party, do not serve teens. If both adults and teens will be guests, make sure adult beverages and soft drinks are located in separate areas. If the party is just teens, make your presence known. You can do this without being obvious by regularly walking by with more food. Confiscate any alcohol brought by a teenager.

Know what your kids are doing. Know where they are and who they are spending time with. Help them find productive ways to spend their time. A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse indicates that a bored teen is 50 percent more likely to drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs.

If your teen is going to a party, ask if there will be alcohol. Don’t assume that the laws will be followed. Fact check if you have doubts. Look for evidence when you drop your child off.

Let your teen know that he or she can call you for a ride. Save the lecture for another day.

Talk to your teens about drinking

Be honest about your past. If you drank as a teen, point out why it was a bad idea. This came up recently in our home. I told my children that much was different then. At the time, the legal drinking age was 18 where I lived. Brain science had not yet discovered that our brains are still maturing into our 20s or how much alcohol could affect a growing brain.

You might want to share some stories (about yourself or people you know) and point out some of the bad, even potentially dangerous, decisions that were made while under the influence.

Like other difficult parent-child conversations, it is ideal to start to talk often and early. Don’t just say “Don’t drink.” Offer realistic limits, or ways to “fake,” such as nursing a drink or drinking lookalikes (plain soda out of red Solo cup does the trick). Suggest some possible excuses, like “I’ll get in trouble with my coach,” etc.

It’s also important to set hard and fast rules: no drinking and driving, no binge drinking, and calling for help if things get out of control.

Most importantly, be available. Your kids need to know they can come to you if they or one of their friends has made poor choices and needs help. That said, they may be embarrassed or feel they have disappointed you, and not come to you as a result. Let them know about other trusted people who can help, such as doctors, school counselors, or clergy.

Teens are not small adults, alcohol affects them differently

Brain science has come a long way in the past few decades. We have learned that the human brain develops well into one’s 20s. It has been a long-accepted fact that alcohol can have damaging effects on brain cells, but we are just learning that the damage to teens and young adults can be even greater.

Alcohol limits what teens can do, thwarting chances to learn and subsequently not meeting their potential. Alcohol reduces inhibitions, causing riskier behavior at an age already predisposed to such behavior.

In addition, teens are susceptible to addiction due to the plasticity of younger brains. Since there is also a potential genetic component, teens with a family history of alcoholism or mental health issues have to be more aware.

Parents need to understand all this and, as with other grown-up issues, give independence gradually. Teens don’t simply wake up one morning as adults ready to make responsible decisions. They need education and guidance.

They also need to recognize that not everyone is affected by alcohol in the same way. The popular weight chart, indicating how many drinks one can have before becoming intoxicated, can be useful, but not relied on. If one is drinking on an empty stomach, for example, alcohol has a different effect. People of the same weight don’t always metabolize alcohol at the same rate. Each person is different.

Taking cold or other medicine can cause one to become intoxicated quicker and can also have potentially dangerous effects, especially to the liver.

Watch for signs of a problem

Know the risk factors that increase the likelihood your teen may have or develop a problem: depression, a family history of alcoholism, or issues with peer relationships. Teens with a family history of alcoholism are four times more likely to have a drinking problem of their own.

Unfortunately, many signs that your teen may be abusing alcohol (moodiness, resisting family rules, a change of interests and/or friends, problems in school) can also be caused by other factors. It may even be normal teen behavior. Jumping to conclusions and making accusations can backfire, so you might want to investigate quietly.

Trending in the right direction

Though it’s wise to be vigilant, don’t let the statistics worry you too much. Teenage alcohol use as a whole is on the decline. According to a CDC survey, the number of teens who had tried alcohol dropped from 81.6 percent to 63.2 percent between 1991 and 2015. Those who reported having five or more drinks in one night went from 31.3 to 17.7. Today a third of teens drink, down from 50 percent 25 years ago.

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

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GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

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Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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