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Dear Decaturish – What messages are Decatur parents sending to kids about alcohol?

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Dear Decaturish – What messages are Decatur parents sending to kids about alcohol?


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Illustration. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Dear Decaturish,

Substance is abuse is a concern for the Decatur community.

Recently, to conclude National Recovery Month, a showing of the film “The Anonymous People” was offered to the local community. The showing included panel of those in recovery sharing their stories. We had over 60 people in attendance.

The dangers of substance abuse among teenagers are an ongoing conversation in our community. But have we stopped to consider how our attitudes toward alcohol are influencing their behavior? Have we as adults considered our own risky behavior?

Over the years these words have left my lips more times that I can count.

“I so need a glass of wine. It’s been one of those days.”

The reality is 99.5 percent of the time I didn’t go have a glass of wine. It became a figure of speech and I know I’m not the only one who has said these words. Over the last couple of years, I have made a concerted effort to not use this phrase. Why? The message it sends to our youth: when a day has been tough, go to the bottle to soothe your troubles.

Do we want our youth to hear this message? Is this the impression we want them to take into their world when times may be rough?

Instead, what about?

– “I need to go for a run.”

– “I need to spend time with people who care about me.”

– “I need to take some deep breaths.”

Insert anything after “I need” that would be helpful and healthy to model for our kids.

Then there are the t-shirts, plaques, notepads, memes, etc joking about alcohol. One of my favorites is printed on a glass. “Wine is like duct tape, it fixes everything.” We have all seen products like this. Here in Decatur I have seen a t-shirt, “Decatur: A drinking town with a festival problem”.

I know this t-shirt can be read from a couple different perspectives. So, go back and read it again. Think about it. If you agree with the intended message of the shirt, do you just read and chuckle? Or do you choose to address it? If I were to make a t-shirt, it would say, “Decatur: Where a festival can’t exist without alcohol.”

You know who notices the drinking and alcohol at all these events? Our kids. I say this confidently, because I work with a large population of kids in our community.

Recently, while driving in town, I was excited to see the painting of a mural, but then only to find out it’s a mural of Bacardi bottles. I have questioned the city, asking who has the right to make decisions about mural content. I’m guessing property owners, but I’m also guessing the city has some guidelines as well. I’m awaiting a response. If the city does have a say, I ask, “Is this how we want to use our limited space in town for sharing visual art with the community and those who visit?”

Why do I care? It has become the culture for youth in our town to take pictures in front of murals and post them to social media. I know as soon as the mural is completed, I will begin to see these images.

Halloween is a big event in Decatur. People flock to my neighborhood to walk up and down Avery Street.  When I moved here a few years ago I was over the moon to see the community spirit. Eventually, I noticed a few things. I saw some adults with their kids walking down the street pulling a keg in a wagon offering drinks to passersby. I saw houses offering drinks to adults coming to their door or porch while at the same time offering candy to kids.

I will close by saying I’m not a teetotaler. I am also not trying to get in the way of local establishments serving alcohol. My goal isn’t to shut down The Beer Fest or Wine Fest.  My hope in writing this is to give us pause to the words we use, the messages we send and the lack of support for those battling with addiction.


– Marnie Grodzin

Director of Gathered and Grounded

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