“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”
While talking to your children about drinking is a topic that should be discussed all through out the year, I think now is the perfect time to put the spotlight on the subject. Spring is here and before we know it school will be letting out for the year. This could mean lots of parties for teens and young adults. Graduation will be happening soon. At Nannah’s (16) school, prom is this weekend. Her classmates are excited about dressing up and going to parties. Unfortunately the reality is there could be drinking before and after the prom. I want to be sure to talk to her about underage drinking.
I am happy to annouce that I am participating in the Family Talk About Drinking Ambassador Program. I will be sharing resources that are available to parents who are facing conversations involving alcohol with their teenager.
If you stop by the Family Talk About Drinking Facebook Page, you will find plenty of resources to help you talk with your teens.
The first steps parents need to take before talking about drinking with their kids is to sit down and ask yourself the tough questions:
- What do we think about alcohol and underage drinking?
- What rules do we want to communicate? Are we prepared to back up our advice with our own actions?
- When it comes to conversations with our kids, what are we really trying to achieve?
- Are we trying to protect our kids from the world or are we trying to teach them the skills they need to make smart decisions?
In my family alcohol is only for adults. That is 21 years of age and up. 18 may mean legally grown but that does not mean you can drink. Underage drinking is not allowed at all! The rules are pretty straightforward. My kids are not allowed to drink anything that contains alcohol. This includes wine coolers, beer and wine. You can not have a have a sip of alcohol, especially when with others (friends or family members). No excuses!
We want our kids to know that drinking underage is never ok. If they are in presence of someone who is drinking, you never get in a vehicle with them. I want them them to make smart and safe decisions. Don’t ever be scared to call somone to come get you.
I am definitely trying to teach my kids the skills to make smart decisions. It would be impossible to protect them from the world. I want them prepared for what they may face.
Know The Stages Of Parenting
Talking with your children about drinking and preventing under age drinking is important at all stages. You want to have this type of conversation with them no matter what the age.
There are three main stages of parenting :
You need to be the number one source of information about alcohol.
Help your kids make sense of a complicated world and in corporate family values into their decisions about alcohol.
Coach through children through situations where they may encounter alcohol.
I want to focus on the Coach stage because my oldest children are 14, 16 and 20. The parenting guide through the Anheuser-Busch Talk About Drinking Programs shares tips coaching your child:
- Exhibit that you trust your child by setting clear boundaries.
- Affirm and encourage the good choices they have made up to this point.
- Listen with an open mind.
- Encourage smart decisions by helping your teenager think through possible scenarios that involve alcohol.
The Family Talk About Drinking Coaching Model is a great resource to use when starting conversations with your teens about drinking. Even though my kids would prefer to run out the door when they have plans, I like asking open-ended questions because then you will get more than a simple yes or no answer. Some examples are:
- “If there’s drinking at the party, what will you do?”
- “What do you think about kids who drink?”
- “If your friends wanted to drink, how would you handle it?”
- “Tell me about your friend’s parents. What are they like?”
It is important to not interrupt and listen to the answers. Sometimes it is easy to jump in and give them the answer instead of letting them come to the conclusion themselves.
Curiosity and Active Listening
- “What’s it like to be a teenager these days?”
- “What’s the hardest thing you deal with when it comes to just being yourself around your friends?”
My kids and I talk all the time about their life and what kinds of situations they come across. Fortunately they feel comfortable talking about this with me. It is not anything I force, the conversations just comes up randomly and I just listen. If they want my advice I give it to them.
Ending with a Clear Statement
- “I expect that you won’t drink alcohol.”
- “If you ever have a question about alcohol, you can count on me to listen and answer honestly.”
- “If you’re ever in a situation where you have to choose between getting in a car with a drunk driver or calling me, I want you to call me. I will pick you up no questions asked.
My kids are don’t always seem like they are listening to me but I still talk and let them know what I expect from them. We are all human and make mistakes and I want them to know I will alway be there. No situation should ever be so scary that they can not call me for help.
I will be posting a few more times about the Family Talk About Drinking Program. For more information about Underage Drinking Prevention, visit the Anheuser-Busch website. Don’t forget to download the Parent Guide for Family Talk About Drinking!