The Roundup -

Change Your Impact

Series, Part 1: The Fault of Culture


October 11, 2017 | View PDF

We are proud people of Montana and the 406 area code. Family traditions and our hardworking lifestyles are stubbornly imbedded and even showcased in our everyday culture here. The strength of family and community is mighty, and regardless of tragedy we keep moving on, keep building up, keep on keeping on.

Over the next 8 weeks, the Change Your Impact series will cover topics that relate to Richland County residents in terms of the perception of alcohol use and it's impact on the lives of our youth. Each week we encourage you, the readers, to send in your comments to help foster culture changing discussions. We can't change our impact if we can't openly discuss how each of us participates in that impact. So, join us for the next eight weeks to delve into the impact we each have on our youth.

Part 1: The Fault of Culture: Culture defines us in many positive ways. It keeps families together, it brings adult children home, it makes us treat people a certain way, open doors, be respectful, etc. Richland County culture brings people together for a variety of activities including fundraising, family reunions, and rodeos, which is positive for our community. At almost every event or gathering you will find social drinking. This is a normal and accepted occurrence. What's the fair without it or the Fourth of July or so and so's birthday BBQ? Who doesn't have beer or alcohol in their fridge right now?

No, this article isn't about advocating for more alcohol consumption nor is it advocating for prohibition. As each prior generation will attest, the younger generation does things differently and the way we perceive alcohol and alcohol consumption is no exception. Alcohol is tightly imbedded in Richland County culture but what are your personal thoughts on it?

"My dad gave me a beer after branding. It was no big deal because everyone was drinking and I was at home, so it was legal." DUI treatment attendee, age 36. A reward for hard work. What eleven-year-old would at that moment remember, let alone care, what they have been taught about underage drinking? None, because this is what is accepted in our culture. When asked how many beers he was given or allowed to drink, the treatment attendee's response was "just one." This type of hard work rewards system remains common in Richland County and throughout our nation. It is common in almost every small rural community. A person could easily substitute branding and harvest with weddings, holidays, and graduations. Nor is this issue designated to one segment of society in Richland County.

When, though, does a cultural reward turn into something different, socially taboo and potentially damning for communities? The way your children see and use alcohol has changed from when you were growing up. This drinking culture has unintended consequences for the next generation that many adults don't see because drinking is so engrained into their everyday lives.

There it is, the crux of this article is perception. There is a gap between your own perception and your children's perception about the use of alcohol.

Challenge your perception about what you think your children know about consuming alcohol. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Send your comments to the Editor.

Next time: Change Your Impact Series, Part 2, Adulthood is a Misnomer.


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