504 Main by Holly Lefevre: Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Underage Drinking
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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tips for Talking to Your Teen About Underage Drinking

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 me participation. 

Proms, parties, graduations...summer! This is a time of year filled with celebrations, happiness, and milestones. It is a time when many teens are feeling more grown up. Perhaps they are promoting from middle school to high school. Perhaps that Junior is now a Senior. Or that Senior has just graduated. These milestones can also bring a sense of independence and possibly the urge to explore more adult activities. Those activities could very well include alcohol and underage drinking. As a parent it is our responsibility to educate and discuss these potentially dangerous situations with our children, so they may be able to handle themselves when situations arise.

Parents are the top influencer in their childrens decision making about alcohol.

Anheuser-Busch has been facilitating the Family Talk About Drinking Program for over 20 years, with the goal to provide parents tips for having an open conversation about alcohol with their children. According to GfK Roper Youth Report, parents are the greatest influence on teens' decision making when it involves alcohol, and that influence continues to rise, as there has been a 24% increase in a parents influence since 1991. It is my opportunity, your opportunity to be the positive influence in your child's decisions.

With the advice and information provided by Family Talk About Drinking program, I made some extra special time to talk to my son about what is going on in his life, at school, and about the complexities of teen drinking. 

The first thing I did was to ask him what some of his thoughts were about teenage drinking.
This is his list, in the order he said them:
  • Illegal
  • Dangerous
  • Could hurt you
  • Could hurt others
  • You could get arrested
  • I wont drink until I am 21 (he is barely 14 and really has no idea of the pressures that are out there)
I learned it is best to ask open-ended questions when discussing anything with my teenage boy. I thought I would share a few of the questions from that conversation...just in case you need a little inspiration. Of course you can extend the conversation beyond these, but these particular questions helped us get a dialogue going.
  • What do you think/How would you explain our family rules are about underage drinking?
  • What would you do if you were at an event and a group/friends began drinking alcohol? 
  • What do you think the consequences would be if you were drinking?
  • Have you ever heard talk at school/among your friends about drinking? (I know this is not open-ended...but follow it up)
  • What would you do if you were at a friends house and you discovered he had alcohol hidden in his room? Or at school in his locker?
We discussed his answers and I reiterated what our expectations were/are for him and for the family as well. It was a great discussion and I really urge you to do the same with your teen.

MJ Cochran, a certified educator and parent coach and the creator of Family Talk About Drinking, offers these additional tools for talking with your teen to prevent underage drinking.
4 easy ways to keep communication open
It is never to early or too late to talk to your kids about underage drinking. Of course what and how you discuss it varies greatly depending on age. The Family Talk About Drinking program understands these roles and offers great advice on how to approach children based on their age. I have children in two very different stages. Understanding this is very helpful when facilitating a conversation about this subject. While I am more "concerned" about my son due to his age, I know that my daughter needs to be aware and that I need to start educating her now.

Three Stages of Parenting from #ABFamilyTalk

Stage 1: The Teacher (age 1-7)
  • Parents set boundaries.
  • Be consistent.
  • Check for understanding
Stage 2: The Facilitator (ages 8-13)
  • Have conversations that explain your point of view.
  • Ask questions that respect their maturity.
  • Allow your children to practice saying "no."
  • Support, don't threaten.
Stage 3: The Coach (ages 14-21)
  • Listen with an open mind.
  • Get curious; ask better questions
  • Avoid communication stoppers and drive-thru parenting.
  • Don't give up on your influence.
Stage 3 is the Coaching Phase for chldren ages 14-21

Check out this video to hear MJ Cochran explain Family Talk About Drinking
Follow along on the blog for more great advice. 
Or explore the hashtag #ABFamilyTalk for more insight.
This post is written and created at 504 Main by Holly Lefevre
“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.”

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