How can I explain the dangers of alcohol to my teen?
Real Mom Problem
“My 17-year-old stepdaughter was caught at a party tonight and given a Minor in Possession ticket. She was a little drunk.”
- 1. Talk to your kids about the dangers of drinking, and especially drinking and driving
- 2. Remind your kids that it's illegal to drink before the age of 21
- 3. Tell your kids to call you if they find themselves in a situation where alcohol is involved or if they need a ride
- 4. Encourage teens to get involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities to keep them busy
Real Mom Solutions
Are you worried that your teen is drinking? Get advice from these moms about how to teach your kids about the dangers of alcohol.
Talk About the Effects & Consequences
We have had the talk about alcohol already and it looks like our teens are listening. What helped us was to show them the statistic of how many people end up in car accidents due to the effects of alcohol in their systems.
Find a "scared straight" program in your area. The local police station might be able to point you in the right direction, or if you have a jail nearby -- particularly a prison -- call them and see if they have any programs that demonstrate the potential consequences of drugs and alcohol. If not, take your son to the homeless shelter.
I've had the alcohol, sex, and drugs talks with my oldest who is 14. I think I started the talks around age eight. I use any chance or situation I can get for a learning experience!
Keep a line of communication open. Answer questions honestly. Have consequences set up in advance IF your child does drink. My son knows that if I ever catch him drinking, drinking and driving, or getting in a car with someone who's drunk, then there will be severe consequences. He will lose his license (I will take it) and I will put him in counseling to deal with the drinking. There is just too much of a risk for alcoholism in my family (and his father's).
We've talked with our kids about what effects alcohol has on people. They've also seen firsthand from being at family gatherings how it alters people's personalities, making them act in ways they normally wouldn't. After occasions like that, we discuss drinking. I also think teenagers learn from what they see their parents do.
The very first thing to do is to explain to them about your expectations from them in terms of alcohol use. Clearly tell them the consequences for breaking the rules. Explain to them how you feel about underage drinking, but do not give them a lecture on the subject. Talk to them about the cultural or religious traditions followed in your family including acceptable use of alcohol. Explain to your children how to handle peer pressures to drink. Teach them how to say "NO" and make suggestions to their friends to do something that doesn't involve drinking. Be a role model for your child. Never drink and drive. Do not use the assistance of alcohol to cope with stress, depression, or anger. Please make your child understand that in the long run, alcohol is injurious to health. Ask your teens to say no to alcohol and mean it, and if the other person pressures them, to walk away.
I found that just placing the emphasis on the fact that buying and drinking alcohol is illegal really helped.
Teach Teens to Be Smart About Alcohol
Teens should be taught that you don't have to have alcohol to have a good time at a party.
I had the talk with both of my daughters ending with, "If you decide to drink or you get in a situation where you had something and you drove there, please, please, do not drive home. Call me. I will come and get you. NO HASSLE because I want you to come home safe." Now both my girls have gone off to college. I know they are doing some drinking. However, the rule still applies. Call someone or don't go anywhere. Be smart. Watch your surroundings.
Have an open dialogue about alcohol and be a good role model yourself. If you are going to drink in front of your kids, drink responsibly.
I have worked very hard to take the "mystique" out of alcohol by allowing them to taste drinks that I have -- wine, mixed drinks, etc., and make it not such a big deal. They have seen me drunk (when I wasn't going to be driving for awhile) and have seen how I act, how my boyfriend acts, how my friends and some family members, etc., act, and seen firsthand how it affects people. They know how vitally important it is to not drink and drive, and that if they drink at a party, they are to call me for a ride.
I have allowed my kids to have champagne on special occasions. I also don't mind when we are visiting a country with different laws, where they CAN drink legally (two of my daughters did at 15). It's important to learn to drink responsibly IF you are going to drink. I never drink "to get drunk," and I don't expect them to either.
I tell my kids, "If you drive, don't drink. If you drink, don't drive. If you drive and start drinking, call me!" I would rather pick you up at the party than the police station, hospital, or morgue.