(Reuters Health) - - While most parents heading out for alcohol-infused holiday parties will have arranged for child care while they’re out and for transportation back home in case they become tipsy, one in four won’t have put much thought into how they’ll handle the kids if they have a hangover the next morning, a U.S. survey suggests.
The nationally representative survey, which included responses from 1,170 parents with at least one child up to age nine, also found that three in 10 parents said they knew of an adult who may have caused an unsafe situation for their child due to alcohol consumption at a holiday celebration.
The message for parents is “enjoy the holidays, but you need to make arrangements to fulfill your parenting responsibilities,” said Sarah Clark, co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s National Poll on Children’s Health.
Clark doesn’t think parents are being irresponsible. “I actually think they don’t anticipate having a hangover,” she said. “That comes from something else in the data: the people who are least likely to make plans are the ones who say they drink rarely. To be honest, I think they forget how you can feel the next day. Even a mild hangover combined with a two-year-old can be a problem if you don’t have energy and may not feel as alert as you would be otherwise.”
Among parents who knew of someone who may have caused an unsafe situation for their child due to drinking, the biggest concerns were: the hungover parent was too impaired to supervise the child (61 percent) or to handle a possible emergency (48 percent) or the parent drove around with a child while impaired (37 percent) or got violent or out of control in front of the child (28 percent).
Most parents, 80 percent, said they drank alcoholic beverages at special events, with 27 percent saying they often did, 36 percent saying sometimes and 17, rarely. Among the parents who said they drink at special occasions, 73 percent said they were very likely to plan in advance for babysitters during the event and 63 percent said they were very likely to plan for transportation home, such as choosing a designated driver.
One in 12 parents admitted to at least one time when they might have been too impaired from alcohol to fulfill their parenting responsibilities. Many of them said they learned from that experience and had changed the amount of alcohol they consumed and were more careful to plan for childcare during and after social events that included alcohol.
Parents who haven’t been out much may have forgotten about hangovers, said Dr. Alexis Halpern, emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “I think sometimes people forget that what you did 10 years ago - before you had kids - you may not be able to do now,” Halpern said. “When you don’t drink for a while, whatever tolerance your body had is going to go down. And if you have a night like you used to have, it could lead to a very bad day the next day. You just can’t drink like you used to.”
It’s something Halpern as a mom herself has to remember when going out with friends. “Your children are going to get up at the same time expecting the same amount from you tomorrow regardless of what you do tonight,” she said. “You really have to think about that.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2S4QIT9 C.S. Mott Children's National Poll on Children's Health, online December 17, 2018.