Parents play a major role in their children’s choices about alcohol. Research shows that teens whose parents stay involved in their lives and activities, even when they are older, are much less likely to use alcohol.
Parents can prevent their teens from getting alcohol by:
- Talking to teens frequently about the dangers of underage drinking
- Asking teens where they are going and who they will be with
- Checking that teens are where they say they will be
- Staying in touch by spending time together
Always keep the lines of communication open with your teenager. Even if your teenager won’t open up to you about whether or not he’s drinking – or if he promises that he isn’t, but you know or suspect his friends are – there are still ways you can help. Let your child know that if friends are drinking it’s OK to call you. SADD, Students against Destructive Decisions, offers a free downloadable version of a contract you can have your children sign saying they will never drink and drive. Having them actually sign a written contract might make them think twice before they get behind the wheel of a car.
Parents need to be open and honest with their teen or young adult about the risks of drinking. Honesty is always the best policy. Equip your teen or young adult with the tools and resources to handle circumstances related to alcohol. For example, parents and guardians need to let their child know where he or she can turn if they have a problem, such as making clear that they can always call you, regardless of the circumstances – whether that means they’re drunk (and afraid of being punished or disappointing you), it’s very late or they’re in some other situation. Make clear that you always want to get a call from them, no matter what the hour or what has happened.
Also, remember that it is always a bad idea to host drinking parties for your teenage children. Even if your teenage children are older. Many parents rationalize having these parties thinking they can monitor their children’s intake and activities. This is a bad idea. Serving alcohol to minors is illegal. Parents who furnish or allow underage drinking to occur are subject to civil and criminal penalties.