Start Talking Today
Did you know that parents are the number one influence on their child’s decision not to use alcohol?
It’s true. Your kids are listening to your advice and watching your example, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Think back to when they were babies trying hard to say their first word. They probably studied your face, doing their best to mimic your movements. Or when they took that first wobbly step, they looked to you for reassurance that it was safe to keep going. As they continue to grow up, that instinct to look to you as an example and for reassurance is still there. This is especially true when it comes to issues around alcohol.
As parents, it is up to us to set the example and expectation early and often that underage drinking is not okay. Not only is it illegal, but it has the potential to have long lasting physical, emotional, and social consequences. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a collection of helpful parent resources on how to start the conversation about alcohol and why it is so important.
Adding to that importance right now, is the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our youth, especially teens. As quarantine restrictions ease up, many teenagers are understandably excited to get back to “normal” and hang out with their friends. After months of separation, the return to “normal” increases the potential for unhealthy and riskier social behavior.
Like the rest of us, are looking to shed the stress caused by COVID-19. Help guide them through this time by talking about healthy ways to cope and talking about ways they can say no to the pressures to drink alcohol and what to do if they find themselves in a situation where alcohol or drugs are present.
Don’t assume that your kids know your expectations about alcohol and underage drinking. Just like when they were babies and toddlers, they are depending on you to let them know what is safe and what their next step should be. As parents, this means having direct and intentional conversations. If you have already started these talks with your children, keep talking. If you haven’t, today is a great day to start.
Additional resources you may find helpful:
Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol
MADD: Power of Parents
Parent’s Guide to Prevent Underage Drinking
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