***Disclosure: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.***
I am SO blessed to be able to raise my children in a city that is so rich with family-friendly activities. We always enjoy the various festivals and events, and especially everything that involves live music. With these events, however, comes alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. (There are always beer and wine vendors available for responsible adults at these events.)
My teen, Kyle, often attends these events, and usually, he chooses to spend time with his friends rather than his parents. I can't really blame him. When I was 15, I certainly didn't want to hang out with my family all the time, either. We have a very open line of communication, and Kyle makes very good choices the majority of the time. Still, with all of the summer festivities beginning, we have been taking the time to talk to him again about the consequences of underage drinking.
My husband and I have decided that the cycle ends now, and our kids will never have to grow up with an addicted parent. We don't drink often at all, and when we do, we do so responsibly. Still, the choices of others affect our lives, and my kids miss out on relationships they should be having, if only the drugs and alcohol weren't top priority. It's hard having to explain to children why certain people don't make the effort to see them or even talk to them. As a mom and a daughter, this breaks my heart. But there is some good that comes from this painful reality....because my teen sees first-hand how drinking can hurt a family, he has absolutely zero interest in doing so, himself.
Even though I am 100% confident that my son has the willpower to say no to drinking, we still revisit this topic once in awhile. After all, as he gets older, he may find himself in different situations where peer pressure is present. Kids have the desire to fit in and be "cool", so peer pressure can be hard to walk away from. We like to talk about these possible scenarios, so he can come up with the best response beforehand.
For more than 20 years now, the folks at Anheuser-Busch have shared the Family Talk About Drinking program with parents to help provide them with tips on having an open dialog about alcohol with their children of all ages. Trust me, it's never too early to talk to your kids about this and other "sensitive" issues.
Parents have 3 roles when it comes to parenting, each specific to age and development of their child(ren): Being a Teacher (for children ages 1-7), The Facilitator (for children ages 8-13) and The Coach (ages 14-21 and older).
No matter which stage you're in, kids need appropriate guidance from the person who loves them most: YOU! Even when teens tell you they don't need your input, they still do. It just takes some creativity to make sure that they will actually hear you. The #ABFamilyTalk About Drinking website can help you there.
- 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.
Please consider taking time out to talk to your kids about underage drinking. As prom and summer approaches, this is a crucial discussion for parents to have. Be open. Be honest. Talk about how to handle different situations when a teen may be tempted to drink, and how they could handle it. I have found that the more open I am with MY teen, the more he comes to us for advice about sensitive topics, and he consistently makes good choices as a result. It may be uncomfortable, but I promise you, it will bring you closer together.
You can learn more on the Family Talk About Drinking website.
You can also join the discussion on the Family Talk About Drinking Facebook page.
How do YOU go about tackling sensitive conversations with your teens? I'd love to hear your ideas!