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Last Updated on August 30, 2016 by Diane Hoffmaster
This post about Best Ways to Start a Family Discussion about Underage Drinking has been sponsored. I am participating 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.
So, lets say you have teenagers like I do and you are concerned about underage drinking. With high school graduation and prom season on the horizon, this is a major concern for many parents. You decide you need to talk to your teens about this very important topic but you aren't sure how to go about it. The first thing you need to do is check out my post about how to talk to teens about underage drinking. There is a ton of great information there. But, now you need to get down to the nuts and bolts of the actual TALK. How do you start? What information do you include? How do you really get your point across to kids who may or may not be really HEARING what you are saying? I decided to put together a few tips about the actual talk itself to help make it more effective. Then, keep reading for information from the Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking Program that you may find helpful. Making sure you discuss underage drinking before graduation parties and prom parties start may just save a life so please plan your family meeting!
Best Ways to Start a Family Discussion about Underage Drinking
1. Put down your thoughts in writing ahead of time: I hate going into any presentation unprepared. Before you start your family discussion, jot down a few key facts that you want to cover. Periodically glance at it to make sure you are presenting everything you wanted to say. The Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking website is a great resource.
2. Consider using images: This may be a controversial idea but underage drinking can create some very gruesome consequences. Teenagers are not children any more. They need to SEE what their actions may result in. Remember those horrid movies in driver's ed? Those really stuck with you, didn't they?
3. Try role playing. There is no way to predict how and when your teen will be presented with the opportunity to drink alcohol. Role playing may give them a better understanding of how to handle themselves in a tricky situation.
4. If you have more than one teen, encourage their own conversation: Grownups speak 'adult' which is not always well understood by the teenage species. If you have more than one teen, encourage them to talk to each other. They may be able to understand each other better than you do.
5. Make a plan for the NEXT family meeting. Discussions about underage drinking shouldn't just happen once. You may need to revisit the topic occasionally, just to check in!
Research from the GfK Roper Youth Report indicates that parents have significantly more influence on teens’ decisions about drinking alcohol than they did 20 years ago. Yes, you heard that right....teens really ARE listening to us! One thing you will learn on the Family Talk About Drinking website is that our role as parents changes significantly as our children grow up. We are a teacher for children ages 1-7. We are a facilitator for children ages 8-13. And we are a coach for children ages 14-21 and older.
As we approach prom and graduation season, we need to help coach our children through situations where they may encounter alcohol.(here is where the role playing comes in!) How will they know how to behave at a party if we don't discuss it ahead of time? The Family Talk About Drinking program features tips and suggestions from certified educator and parent coach MJ Corcoran, including:
- 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.
I found that the Anheuser-Busch Family Talk About Drinking program website had a lot of really great information. I like the suggestion that you explain consequences of bad behavior before they even happen. My son is working on getting his drivers license. We have already discussed my expectations and what will happen if he doesn't meet those expectations. The site also gave several suggestion about how to talk to your teen about underage drinking without being confrontational.
Anheuser-Busch is encouraging parents to learn more about their Family Talk About Drinking program. The tips they offer on their website will help open a dialog about alcohol with their children of all ages. Take a moment this prom and graduation season to keep your child safe and to make good choices! Check out the Family Talk About Drinking Parent Guide to get started and follow them on Facebook for more information.
Will YOU start a family discussion this week?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.