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.
As a mother of teenagers, the whole alcohol issue is scary to me. As parents, we all want to have the talk about drinking but we want it to count, to have an impact on our kids. But how do we have that talk? And how do we make it have an impact?
For starters, be confident. Research shows that parents are (and have been, for 20 years) the most important influence on their teens’ decisions about alcohol. In fact, this year’s report indicates a 24 percent increase in parental influence since 1991!
For more than two decades, Anheuser-Busch has sponsored the Family Talk About Drinking program for parents, a resource that provides information and tips on how to have that talk with their kids.
Parents have three main roles in their children’s development; Being a Teacher (for children ages 1-7), the Facilitator (for children ages 8-13), and The Coach (for children ages 14-21 and older). I am in the Coach phase, as my daughter is 17.
And guess what’s right around the corner? Graduation. And graduation parties. And senior week. Oh boy. This is a critical time to get our kids through situations where alcohol may be present. But how do we talk about drinking, and what do we say? Certified educator and parent coach MJ Corcoran and Family Talk About Drinking to the rescue!
Don’t let a Window of Opportunity close! Windows of opportunity to engage in a dialogue can open and close quickly! Talking about prom and graduation present perfect windows of opportunity to talk about drinking. This is your chance to discuss boundaries and good decision-making when your kids encounter alcohol.
Connect with your teen! Making that connection includes listening to your teenager as well as respecting their opinion. This will pave the way to having those tough conversations — like the one about underage drinking!
Ask the right questions. When you’re talking to your teen, ask open-ended questions that will be thought-provoking. For instance, discuss potential scenarios that involve alcohol.
Encourage Accountability. Prom and graduation season can be pretty fast-paced and chaotic at times. There’s a lot going on, so don’t just settle for a text. Encourage your teenager to be accountable and check in at certain times with an actual phone call.
The most important: Be consistent! Your position on underage drinking should not change depending on the occasion. If you tell your teen they may not drink alcohol but you make exceptions for special occasions, you’re sending mixed messages. No drinking, no matter what. No alcohol at prom, no alcohol at graduation parties, no alcohol at any time, for any reason. Set boundaries and stick to them!
For me, I was worried about the whole peer pressure issue, and how drinking alcohol can be perceived as “cool.” As it turns out, I have more influence over my teen’s decisions about alcohol than I think. While my daughter might see her peers as “risk takers,” I can help her re-frame that perception. There are much better ways to be a risk taker — like through sports and activities and other achievements.
I need to let my daughter have the opportunity to say no for herself, rather than just have me keep her sheltered from any situation where she might encounter alcohol. I should let my teen make good choices for herself, so she can build her confidence.
How exactly can she say no to alcohol when she’s in that situation, though? There are ways! For instance:
1. I’m on a team. I’ll get in trouble.
2. My parents would ground me.
3. For medical reasons, I can’t drink.
4. I’m gluten free.
5. I’m allergic to alcohol.
6. I’m good – I have a drink (water, soda, juice).
7. No thanks, man, I need all the brain cells I can get.
8. Where is the FOOD! I’m starved!
9. I’m watching my figure.
10. You know where the bathroom is?
Regardless of which response they choose, just make sure they are prepared to respond! And they can be prepared when you talk about drinking with them, ahead of time.
And remember, it’s important to have the talk about drinking…but we have to remember that “the talk” isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a process. So have regular consistent conversations with your teens. Be clear in your communication and reinforce your expectations about their behavior. Don’t forget (but don’t dwell on) consequences!
Speaking of consequences, it’s important to remember that getting in trouble should not be a deterrent to your teenager when they need to reach out for help. For instance, you might want to set a policy that your child can always call you for a ride if their friends have been drinking, no questions asked. Even if your child has been drinking, they can (and MUST!) call for a ride no matter what time it is, no matter where they are — no questions asked. That means no questions asked at the time. The next day, there will be questions, and there will be consequences.
Be sure to visit Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking for more information and tips!
Now you can enter to win a $25 e-gift Visa Card to enable you to have some quality time with your teen so you can discuss this important topic. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents (18+) and ends May 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck!
Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.