Talking to your kids about underage drinking can be an awkward nightmare. But it's crazy important. So I'm happy to present some awesome tips inspired by Anheuser-Busch's Family Talk About Drinking Program. I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Anheuser-Busch's Family Talk About Drinking Program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
10 Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Underage Drinking
1. Be available. Obviously you need to be present, but you also need to be listening and undistracted. Ditch the phones and devices and focus on your conversation.
2. Remain calm. Keep an open mind and let your teen know that you're not going to chew their head off if they open up to you. When your teen confides in you, stay calm.
3. Be honest. I have found that being honest with my kids works best. I have shared some of my personal experiences with them and they love knowing that I'm human too and have made plenty of my own mistakes.
4. Show respect. Teenagers are desperate to be considered adults. Treating them like they're children will only make them close themselves off to you. So treat them with respect and let them see that you're really listening.
5. Set boundaries. Yes, they want to be treated like adults, but they also have to face reality. They're not quite there yet. So make rules with consequences if they're broken. Besides, adults face serious consequences when rules are disobeyed so it's an accurate representation.
6. Stand your ground. You can be a friendly parent, but in the end, you're still the parent. Sometimes tough love becomes necessary. So if you threaten to take the phone away, forbid use of the car, or whatever if they break a rule… DO IT.
7. Be consistent. Once the rules are in place and understood, stick with them.
8. Set a good example. Lord knows I love my wine or a good craft beer after a long day. But the kids never see me acting irresponsibly with alcohol. In fact, it was just within the last year they actually saw me drink a beer. They were shocked… not in a bad way, just in a woah, mom is drinking beer realization.
9. Know the difference between cool and actually cool. There are those wild and dangerous ‘cool' kids and then there are the truly impressive, accomplished cool kids. Taking risks doesn't have to mean engaging in underage drinking to impress your so-called friends. Achieving noteworthy goals like rock climbing, marathon running, or making a scientific discovery are way cooler than getting hammered in your spare time. Success is cool. Humiliating yourself in a drunken stupor is not.
10. Rehearse and repeat. Practice by discussing different scenarios where underage drinking may be an issue. Like prom, or graduation parties… Try questions like, “If your friends are drinking at the party, how will you handle it?”
Stages of Parenting
It is important to note that discussing underage drinking can–and should–be done at any age. But depending on the stage your child is in, your role may be different in how you approach the topic.
According to certified educator and parent coach, MJ Corcoran, having regular, consistent conversations with your children, throughout the different stages of their development, also helps clearly communicate and reinforce your expectations about underage drinking and the consequences.
With prom and graduation season upon us, now is a crucial time to connect with your teen. Remember to ask open-ended questions and encourage accountability. Texting is not enough!
Visit FamilyTalkAboutDrinking.com to learn more about how you can talk to your teen about this topic.