“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.”
Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Babies do not come with instruction manuals. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Sure, there are plenty of books about parenting, and you can also seek advice from family and friends, but what it boils down to is you have to be the best parent that you can be. And let me tell you right now there is no such thing as a “perfect parent.”
Being a parent to a teen is a whole lot harder than parenting a child. I have two teens, a son and daughter. One is 18 and the other will be 16 in a few months.
Oh how I miss the child years! Raising teenagers is very stressful. Unlike children, teens are faced with bigger issues such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, dating, sex, graduating high school, college, getting their first job, learning to drive… the list goes on and on.
I have to admit that I was a bit of a “wild child” as a teenager. Nothing too crazy but I did attend keg parties starting when I was 15 years old – way under the drinking age. I thought I was so cool drinking when I was a minor. When I look back on it now I realize how foolish I was.
From a young age my husband and I tried to broach the subject of drinking, smoking and drugs (we save the sex stuff for a later age). My kids participated in the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education ) program at school. They knew that I drank at a young age. In fact my daughter used that as part of her D.A.R.E essay. She won the essay contest and was asked to read her winning essay in front of the entire school, families and invited guests. That was a proud parent moment.
We have always been honest with our kids about things – like underage drinking – in hopes that they can learn from our mistakes. We also make it very clear what our expectations are from them in regards to things like drinking. They know we are totally against it and if they choose to make the wrong decision and engage in drinking there will be consequences.
These days it’s hard to have a deep, meaningful conversation with teens. There are so many distractions (especially from cellphones). I have found that the best conversations I have with my daughter is in the car. I pick her up from school, as well as take her to/from work and her friend’s houses. Right now she doesn’t have a car.
The trip to/from school is only a five minute drive. There have been days when it takes us an hour to get home because my daughter feels comfortable opening up to me in the car when it’s just the two of us. When she’s telling me about things, or wants to talk to me about something, I’ll just drive around while we chat. I also think she finds it more comfortable because we’re not looking at each other face to face since I’m looking at the road and my surroundings.
The talks we have in the car are by far the best, and deepest, talks we’ve ever had. Sometimes my daughter will even ask me to take her out some place just so we can have those talks.
One of our “car conversations” lead to my daughter confessing that she tried alcohol (beer) when she was hanging out with some friends in the woods by a stream. Some of the boys brought beer and everyone was grabbing one. So as not to feel awkward my daughter grabbed one too. She was going to pretend to drink some but curiosity got the best of her and she took a few sips just to try it out.
I appreciate that she felt comfortable enough telling me this. She knows how we feel about drinking and she knew she had to own up to what she did. Although she was honest and open about it (which she knows we appreciated), we had to ground her (the worst punishment of all – we took away her cellphone).
Our daughter hangs out with friends a lot and goes to a lot of parties. We know there is alcohol at these get togethers.
Senior prom and graduation are a month from now which means that there will be A LOT of alcohol readily available to these teens. Now it’s even more important than ever to make sure our daughter knows that underage drinking is not only illegal, it’s also very dangerous. Being intoxicated can lead to other dangerous things (illegal drugs, sex, rape, drunk driving…).
We are confident that she is fully aware of what could happen if she were to get drunk. She also knows that if she goes to an after party where there is drinking involved that she needs to call us to pick her up rather than risk going home with a teen who has been drinking.
We also made it known that she’s “guilty by association.” If she’s putting herself in those kinds of situations and the Police get involved SHE is involved too whether she was drinking or not.
We are not fools. We KNOW most teens are curious about alcohol and will try it. The trick is to make it known that drinking is dangerous, unhealthy and illegal.
Anheuser-Busch has a website to help parents bridge the subject of underage drinking with their teens (as well as younger children). Their Family Talk About Drinking (FTAD) program has been around for 2o+ years. I wish I knew about their site sooner.
Family Talk About Drinking offers parents tips on having an open conversation about drinking and alcohol with children of all ages.
Their program is broken up into the three main stages of parenting;
- Being a Teacher (for children ages 1-7)
- The Facilitator (for children ages 8-13)
- The Coach (for children ages 14-21)
I’m in the “Coach” stage for both my kids.
I wish I had known about this site sooner, but none the less there are plenty of great tips to be found. I especially like the section on how to talk to your college bound student on how to be responsible when they move out. Thankfully our daughter will be going to school locally for a year, so that gives me more time with her to let know how about her responsibilities as an “adult” when she if finally out on her own.
Family Talk About Drinking has tips and suggestions from a certified educator and parent coach named MJ Corcoran. Ms. Corcoran has some excellent tips that all families can put into place TODAY.
Find Windows of Opportunity to Talk – When you have a teenager, windows of opportunity to talk can open and close fast. Use prom and graduation to continue the conversation around underage drinking. Set clear boundaries and encourage good decision-making this prom and graduation season.
Connect with Your Teen – Two things you can do to connect with your teen: listen and respect their opinion. In turn, they’ll be much more likely to talk with you about the tough issues – like underage drinking.
Ask Open-Ended Questions – During prom and graduation season, be sure to ask open-ended questions to help your teen think through potential scenarios involving alcohol.
Encourage Accountability – In the busy time leading up to prom and graduation, a text is not enough. Encourage accountability and check in with a call.
I strongly encourage all parents and guardians to check out the site and get involved in your child’s life. Even if you haven’t discussed drinking yet with your child you can start doing so TODAY.
To see what others have to say about talking to children and teens about drinking, check out the hashtag #ABFamilyTalk.
To help you spend some quality time with your child/teen to open up the discussion about drinking and alcohol I have a $25 e-gift card (sent via email) to send to a lucky reader. Use the gift card to take your child out some place special (out for ice cream, dinner at a favorite restaurant…) and take the opportunity to discuss alcohol and drinking.
Please note: Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on May 31, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.
To enter please comment on this post and share with me a tip about how you talk about drinking and alcohol with your child or teen?
For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify (I do check).