Will You Ring in—or Drink in—the New Year?

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

How will you bring in the New Year? What will your kids learn about how to celebrate a holiday from you?
For some families, New Year’s Eve generates great enthusiasm. In our community, families can go on sleigh rides in the park. A nearby community shoots off fireworks at midnight. Some families throw (or attend) parties. Others have family game nights and then watch the ball drop on TV in Times Square at midnight.

Yet, some families don’t like New Year’s Eve or worry a great deal about the large amount of drinking that’s associated with this holiday, especially when people drink and then drive. “While the holiday season is a time for excitement, celebration, and family, it is also a time of impaired driving and senseless death and injury,” says Dr. Andrea Barthwell, co-chairperson of END (End Needless Death on Our Roadways), a physician-led traffic safety advocacy group.

More Facts:

  • Four out of five Americans say that drunk driving is a “major threat” to their own and their family’s safety.
  • One out of five people who drink alcohol then get into a car and drive afterward.
  • Twenty-one-year-old to 25-year-old drivers are involved in more alcohol-impaired fatal car crashes than any other age group.

I’m not advocating that people don’t drink alcohol. Instead, I believe that people should drink responsibly. They should not drink and drive, and they should not let other people drink and drive. I also am a firm believer that we need to set a good example for our kids. How can we celebrate in ways that are admirable and responsible? According to a recent Working Mother report, one out of four kids has an alcoholic parent. That’s a lot of families affected by alcoholism. But being a responsible, social drinker is vastly different than being a problem drinker. Know the difference between these two lines in yourself. Strive to set a positive example of how to celebrate the holidays in ways that teach your kids positive values.

So, let’s ring in the New Year in ways that are fun and safe! Let’s show our kids how to have a good time—without overdoing it!

1. Lane DeGregory, “Everybody Knows Somebody,” Working Mother, November 2010, 35-46.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, “National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors,” Traffic Tech, Number 392, August 2010.

3. U.S. Department of Transportation, “U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Nationwide Enforcement Crackdown on Drunk Driving,” news release, August 25, 2010.

4. U.S. Department of Transportation, “NHTSA Launches Winter Holiday Crackdown on Drunk Driving,” news release, December 17, 2008.

5. Julie A. Mennella and Catherine Forestell, “Children’s Hedonic Responses to the Odors of Alcoholic Beverages: A Window to Emotions,” Alcohol 42 (4); 249-260, June 2008.

6. U.S. Department of Transportation, “Fatalities Related to Alcohol-Impaired Driving During the Christmas and New Year’s Day Holiday Periods,” Traffic Safety Facts, Number DOT HS 810 870, December 2007.

7. U.S. Department of Transportation, “Daily Death Toll from Drunk Driving Crashes Highest During Holiday Season, New Data Shows,” news release, December 18, 2007.

8. Coalition to End Needless Death on Our Roadways, “Ten States Make Deadly Fatal Fifteen List for Three Years Straight,” news release, November 30, 2007.

9. Julie A. Mennella and Gary K. Beauchamp, “Infants’ Exploration of Scented Toys: Effects of Prior Experiences,” Chemical Senses 23: 11-17, 1998.

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