two girls dressed to celebrate saint patricks day

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, NACoA Co-Founder, psychologist, author, speaker

Are your family, friends, even colleagues making big plans for St. Patrick’s Day? Consider encouraging them to make this St. Patrick’s Day a sober one—for their sake, and for the sake of their kids.

St. Patrick’s Day has become the fourth most-celebrated drinking day in America, right after New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day, and July Fourth. This is amazing because so many of the imbibers aren’t Irish, but are simply looking for a day to just “cut loose.” Unfortunately for them and their children, by cutting loose through drinking alcohol, they are choosing a way that is becoming increasingly more dangerous.

St. Patrick’s Day – a recently created “drunking day” – used to be a day for families to celebrate the best in Irish culture. This included everything from proudly marching in a local parade to “wearing of the green” and flaunting buttons that proclaimed Kiss Me, I’m Irish, or painting sweet little shamrocks on their toddler’s faces.

St Patrick’s Day was a day of fun, laughter, even silliness, where children could be seen perched on their fathers’ shoulders waving Irish flags, giggling as they watched a marching band. Teens and their parents wore clothes that weren’t the height of fashion but were chosen because they were green or somehow conjured an image of a leprechaun. This was a special family day, and in Ireland, bars were traditionally closed. It’s surprising how the heavy marketing and consumption of alcohol has shaped and changed this day in Ireland, in the United States, and even around the world.

Today’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl

Today, you’ll still find the parades and wearing of the green, the silly clothes and the silly buttons, but now added to this mix is the pub crawl, the goal of which is to go from bar to bar getting as drunk as possible as quickly as possible.  What does a pub crawl look like? First, maps are posted on social media sites with directions to participating bars and the order in which to hit them. During the pub crawl, men and women can be seen trouping along in a group, drunk, laughing, stumbling, kissing strangers …throwing up. Sometimes they are being groped or areculled out of their group to head off with a stranger. Some are even accompanied by young, bewildered-looking children.

Consider a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

Challenge your friends, family, and colleagues to have a great time while being in control of their bodies, keeping themselves safe, and creating a memorable positive and safe family experience for their kids where everyone will have a good time by going sober.

3 Reasons Why Going Sober on St. Patrick’s Day Is a Good Idea for Your Children

 1)  How you celebrate St Patrick’s Day is creating a family tradition.

Ask yourself if you want to create a tradition of intoxication for this day, where much of what happens is not remembered or is excused …or would you rather create a tradition of fun family memories? How you celebrate this day will impact not only how your children celebrate now, but also how they handle this day with their own children—this is how family traditions work. This is your opportunity to begin to consciously develop a positive family tradition that will continue long after you are gone.

2)  Teaching your children to have sober fun is an important lesson.

In our society, which has such an emphasis on pairing good times with drinking, a calculated and conscious effort is needed to interfere with these ubiquitous messages. That means you need to be direct and specific in teaching your children to have sober fun. How you celebrate this day creates an imprint on your children for how one has a good time when celebrating any occasion. A sober St. Patrick’s Day is a golden opportunity to demonstrate what sober fun looks like and how good it feels.

3)  Your kids will do what you do more than do what you say.

Remember, your kids watch you to learn how to be an adult. Not only do they like to dress up in your clothes when they are young, but they like to do what you do when they are teens. So, when you tell your kids to avoid drinking or not to go on a pub crawl, those messages are made more powerful if you also demonstrate those behaviors.

Does this sound good? Check out a Sober St. Patrick’s Day® celebration at a location near you:  New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Richmond, VA; Belfast and Dublin, Ireland. Or create one of your own!  It will be great fun for you, your friends, and your children. I’ll be at the New York party and look forward to seeing you there!

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, speaker, consulting psychologist to St. Joe’s Addiction and Treatment Centers in Saranac Lake, NY, in adolescent, and veteran’s treatment programs. Author of nine books, including The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan, and The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power, and regular blogger:   The Powerful Woman.