Talking to teens about drinking can sometimes be challenging, but it is worth it when it comes to safety. Hopefully, this press conference will be the impetus to start the conversation. Remember, parents are the number one influencer in their teens’ lives.
- Communicate- start the conversation with your teen
- Before prom or graduation festivities, discuss your concerns. Ask where your child plans to go, and with whom. Discuss the possibility that alcohol will be present, and emphasize to your teenager that drinking is illegal at this age, and that alcohol use can be dangerous.
- Reports show that teens feel they can access alcohol more readily as they approach their senior year.
- Make sure you don’t become the point of access. Know how much alcohol you have in the house and where you keep it.
- Peer pressure often pushes good kids into making bad decisions, and adding alcohol can make things worse. Discuss your teen’s plans for the night and have them check-in if there will be changes so that there is an opportunity for them to ‘get out’ of an uncomfortable situation.
- Hosting a party can be a good thing, but providing alcohol can cause problems for teens and liability for the parent host. Remember, it is a myth that providing alcohol to teens at home at home is safer.
- Remember – it’s not just driving – teen who are drunk are more prone to get into fights, be either the victims or perpetrators of sexual assaults, or get into other accidents that do not necessarily involve a car.
- Have an active conversation with your teen about the physical effects of alcohol on driving ability with a focus on safety.
- Remind them of the zero tolerance law – that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable alcohol in their bloodstream.
- Remind them not to ride with others who have been drinking.
- As you discuss the plan for your teen and their friends, make a plan for safety too.
- Make sure your teen has alternatives to driving if he or she has been drinking; discuss a ‘code word’ that can be used in regular conversation to get a teen out of a tough situation.
- During prom and graduation, teens often travel in groups. Make sure you have discussed a plan with your teen in case they are stuck in an unsafe situation where their driver has been drinking.
- Whether your teen is headed to college or the work force, bad decisions at key moments like at prom or graduation can influence the future. Arrests or convictions can affect the college application process or a job interview.
- Remind your kids that pictures on the internet will be seen, and not just by you. So, if they choose to party with alcohol, remember that people with cameras or cell phones may be posting pictures, blogging about the night, or emailing to friends.
- Hopefully, you will not get to this point, but there are some things to check for:
- If your teen ‘passes out’, cannot be woken up, has pinpoint pupils, or has shallow breathing, don’t risk having him or her just sleep it off – contact the ER so an expert can make the call. It’s safer to deal with the hassle than the consequences of a bad decision.
- There are resources online to help begin these conversations. Check out the Facts & Conversation series available for FREE at HealthAllianceonAlcohol.com
The Health Alliance on Alcohol is a national education initiative on underage consumption of alcohol through parent/child communication.