As much as we all hate to admit it, teenage drinking is never going away. During the teen years our brains are constantly questioning what is right and wrong and teens are often being pressured by others to do what friends are even if it means breaking the rules.
While we can’t be responsible for the behaviors of all teenagers, we can be responsible for our own teens, and treat them with the respect they wish to receive.
Underage drinking does not have to be something that is swept under the rug, it is something we should be vocal about and talk with our children about.
Don’t wait until your teenager is already doing risky things, have “the talk” with them when they are young so they are aware of the dangers of underage drinking early on. Not only will this be more effective if you are talking to them early, but it will also give them confidence and prepare them for when they are confronted with hard decisions such as drinking.
Here are some of the topics that should be covered:
- Expectations – Make sure your child knows what you expect of them. Clearly state that you don’t want them doing these behaviors, even if all of their friends are.
- Maintain Self-Respect – When you are explaining why drinking is not allowed, try to appeal to their self-respect. Let them know that they are too smart and talented to need alcohol. Also remind them that alcohol can lead to situations where they have less power over themselves, which could damage their self-respect or hurt important relationships.
- Dangers – Regardless of whether or not you are driving under the influence, there are many other dangers associated with underage drinking. It increases your vulnerability to sexual assault, unprotected sex, STD’s and HIV, violence and alcohol poisoning.
We know these conversations can be difficult; there are many resources available to assist. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a great campaign “Talk. They Hear You.” http://www.samhsa.gov/underagedrinking/ and for a more information to having “the talk” with your teen, visit NIH, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and make a difference today!