Family Talk About Drinking Tips (and a Giveaway)

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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.

Family Talk About Drinking

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.

Family Talk About Drinking | Alcohol and Prom

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.

Family Talk About Drinking | Graduation and Alcohol

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.

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  1. Heather S says

    I don’t have teens so haven’t had the talk but I am always there for my nieces if they want to talk about anything.

  2. Margaret Smith says

    I have a 17 year old son that we have spoken too a number of times. Also a 15 year old that we’ve just started talking and discussing drinking with him.

  3. Ellie Wright says

    My sons were already past the teen years before smartphones became so popular. But I still worry about them using them while driving.

  4. Charles Bradshaw says

    Yes, I had the talk before they hit teen years. I found it important because I was not given the talk.

  5. Jean D. says

    I’ve had the talk with my teenagers. I don’t know that it went all that well, but I tried.

    Thanks for a great giveaway!

  6. Laura J says

    I think its so important to keep communications open with teenagers. There is so much peer pressure.

  7. Janet W. says

    I think parents should have the talk starting around age 11 or 12. Those middle school years are when kids start to feel peer pressure to be “cool” and start drinking.

  8. Cynthia C says

    I was lucky in that my kids didn’t drink when they were young teens. I still talk to them now that they are adults and remind them not to drive if they drink.

  9. says

    My girls are grown now, but they aren’t big drinkers – the main reason is that their dad and granny are hardcore alkies and when they did foolish things I would say that’s what drinking does to you, hope you don’t turn to alcohol.

  10. Beth Corbett says

    My mum was reading through this post and didn’t know if she’d enter right, so I said i’ll do it for her.
    My parents told me from a young age that it’s okay to drink, but only have a little bit. I was offered small amounts at occasions like Christmas (which I always declined) and it seemed to work with me. I’m 17 now and I don’t drink at all. I hate the way it can change a person, the way you could be ruining your own body with poison, the way it tastes or smells and the accidents it causes. I understand why some people feel the need to have alcohol, like other drugs, but I have never personally wanted to risk everything I have for a drink that tastes horrible anyway.
    My mother said that this was a great blog post and she’s sure you’ve helped many people :) xx

    • says

      Thanks, Beth, for your thoughtful comment (and kind words!) — good for you! I wish more young people had your attitude. Some people specifically want to drink alcohol because of how it changes them. :( If they only knew! It hardly ever changes you in a positive way. And you are SO right. You risk an awful lot — not the least of which is your personal safety — just by having a drink or two (or more). Nothing is worth that!

  11. Dawn Monroe says

    Yes but its ongoing between drinking and driving and texting and driving. I think teens need the shock treatment. Ive used the internet to share pictures and stories to get my point across.

  12. Karen Glatt says

    I have had a talk with my son about the dangers of drinking underage. It is so important for parents to be good role models and make sure to talk to their teens about this important topic!

  13. La Vonne Yates says

    Yes I have had the talk with both my teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving. Unfortunatly my daughter saw first hand what drinking and driving can do. It was her 3rd grade year around Oct. I was picking her up from school and her class was out on the play ground and coming in from recess and if it had not been for the teachers cars parked in the lot, this driver would of ran down her whole class including her! I was so terrified for her and her class, she started to run towards me and I told her no and go with her class. I was shaking so hard. I have never hugged her so hard when she was finally allowed to come out.

  14. Jennifer Reed says

    My kids are just starting into that age where we need to have this discussion. I enjoyed reading this article.

  15. Katharina says

    Yes, I had the talk with my daughter when she was the age for that. As with other talks, I was direct and to the point and encouraged questions.

  16. Geoff K says

    I don’t have teens of my own, but I have had serious conversations about the birds and the bees and about driver safety with my teenaged cousins in the past.

  17. Tari Lawson says

    I have talked with my teens about drugs and alcohol. I leave the sex talks to my husband ;).

  18. Patrice P. says

    I don’t have a teenager, but this is a very important subject and I hope that all parents will have serious talks with their teens about the dangers of drinking, and that the parents will lead by example.

  19. steve weber says

    I dont have teens, but I think it’s very important to address the risks of alcohol with anyone at any age.

  20. Lenora D says

    I talked to my kid a lot. Didn’t do a lot of good with my sister working behind my back to wrangle him into housekeeping and babysitting all the time.

  21. Kelly Nicholson says

    Have you had the talk with your teenager? (If that doesn’t apply, just leave ANY comment!)

    no teenager here..i need to talk to myself though

  22. Birdiebee says

    My children are raised but when they were growing up I had to have the talk with each of them about drinking.

  23. shelly peterson says

    Yes I have talked with my son about under age drink and other important topics, it is important to do so.

  24. Christine Burd says

    I talked with all my kids about drinking and driving and thank goodness all are responsible adults now

  25. Stephanie says

    I don’t have teenagers, but this talk is super important. My brother and sister in law hosted several graduation parties for my nephew and their first rule was no one drives until the AM.

  26. brittany marie thompson says

    my oldest is 10 , i’m not sure if it’s too early to talk with him about the dangers of drinking or not. but i definately will be talking to him about it when he enters the teenage years.

  27. Sheryl says

    I have had many discussions with my son about not getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. My son doesn’t drive but that is no excuse to go out and drink in excess.

  28. Michelle C says

    Yes, it something I’ve discussed with all of my children, even though two of them are too young to drive.

  29. Angelica says

    Definitely doesn’t apply to me yet but my parents did an awesome job. They built a trusting and open door relationship with me, I was more scared of breaking their trust by drinking than I would have been of any punishments they could have threatened. I hope I can build the same kind of relationship with my kids when the time comes.

  30. Carly D. says

    My parents were open and honest with me as a teenager. I think their honesty helped me to not really be curious and go out partying.

  31. Bridgett Wilbur says

    I have had the talk with my daughter and I told her she can talk to me about anything any time.

  32. WENDI says

    yes i have a 21 year old so we are wayyyy past that lol today was with my 10 year old son about hygiene and the importance now of deodorant and things like that

  33. Jackie says

    Yes. We started talking when the kids were young and have kept the talk going. They know they can come to us to talk about anything and we will listen.
    Thank you!

  34. Alison Tolar says

    I don’t have a teenager, but I do work with teen-aged girls so this is still good information.

  35. Tiffany Losey says

    My son is just a baby but when he is a teenager I will most definatly have that talk with him.

  36. Lisa V. says

    Lucky for me, my daughter was great at making good decisions. And yes, I did speak with her about it and can remember her school sending home information about it too.

  37. Theresa Smith says

    Yeah we had the talk about 14 year ago when our daughter was 16. We always made it clear that no matter what she could call us and we would come and get her from any situation. She knew our stand on drinking as we made it very clear but we also had to let her know that we were the ones to turn to if she needed help.

  38. Stephanie Larison says

    Not yet, my girls are 5 years, and 9 months old. Definitely an important talk in the future to have.

  39. wen budro says

    I don’t have a teenager but I know that this is a great idea. Teenagers are at such risk these days.

  40. Debbie Hinson says

    Lets try this again….Yes I have had the talk with my son…and with everyone…adults need to hear this as well

  41. Birdie Skolfield says

    Yes we have 2 teenagers we talk about this all the time its a constant fear we have to keep our kids busy for sure

  42. Rosanne Morrison says

    Yes, I’ve had the talk repeatedly because my father and brother had severe alcoholism and I knew the longer they waited to drink the better.

  43. Terra Heck says

    I’ve had the talk with five of my six kids. As a 911 dispatcher, I know the realities of underage drinking. I don’t want my kids to be one of those statistics. Thanks.

  44. greentopiaries says

    No teenagers yet here, but will definitely be having the talk when that day comes. Extremely important! Thanks for the chance!

  45. kristi m says

    i still have a few years left before my kids are teenagers .. so im still working on what exactly ill be saying during the talk

  46. Elizabeth Ray says

    I did talk to my daughter and to my late son about drinking. Both, as young adults, accidentally tried mixed drinks at a party (one a a wedding reception, other at a luau) and both thought alcohol was disgusting – and wondered why anyone would add something like that to ruin anotherwise pleasant beverage.

  47. Pauline M says

    I’ve had many conversations with my son about drinking, unfortunately, his father is an alcoholic and he’s had to deal with the consequences first hand in the past. He’s well aware of what happens when you drink and I’m hopeful that it won’t be an issue for him.

  48. says

    I do not have children, but I wish that my parents had talked to me about drinking when I was younger. My parents did not drink at all, like we never even had beer or wine in the house, so I started drinking much younger than I should have because I was curious. Luckily my parents did teach me other valuable lessons and I didn’t get stupid drunk, not even when I was an undergrad. I love your tips though, especially the “I’m gluten free” and “Where’s the food,” those are good ones to pass along.

  49. LynneMarie says

    I don’t have any teenagers (or children for that matter), but if I did I would talk to them about this.

  50. Megan C. says

    My son just turned 21, we have had the talk a lot. Its a shame that several of his friends have DUI’s already. We talk about what they are going through and wonder how they are handling the consequences.

  51. Melanie Comello says

    No not yet, but that’s because i still have a few years before my little one will be old enough for the talk.

  52. Katherine H says

    Yes, I did have a talk with my kids. I have three kids and only one of them is still a teenager, but I’ve had the talk with all three of them.

  53. Sand says

    I don’t have a teenager yet but it’s so important to discuss this. A family friend lost her children to a drunk driver. He was on probation for a previous drunk driving incident. It’s awful!

  54. Bryan E. says

    Thank You for the giveaway…we have been having an ongoing conversation about alcohol, sex, etc. with our kids since elementary school.

  55. xty cruz says

    Yes, to my niece I have already talk to her on what are the things that I have experience for her to learn from.

  56. Kammy Wood says

    I’m not a parent, but those discussions were had in my house when my sisters and I were growing up.

  57. says

    Like you I told my daughter that if she or any of her friends were drinking to call me at anytime and I would pick not only her but everyone in the group up and bring them to my house to sleep. In the morning they would be delivered to their parents safe and sound. Definite repercussions would be discussed in the morning.

    I started talking to her at the age when she started going out with her friends, about 12 years old. You never know when the first offer will be or who will offer. I felt that repeated warning throughout the years would stay in her head more so than just once or twice.


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