Talking to your preteen or teen about alcohol can be uncomfortable or awkward, but knowing what to say and how to say it will help.
As previously discussed, teen drinking is far from harmless. There are many risks that go with teen drinking, including poor school performance, health complications, and possibly fatal accidents. So how do we talk to our teens before they make that decision to engage or not engage in underage drinking?
What Do I Say?
Have some of these important conversations with your teenager.
- Ask your teen about their opinions and knowledge on alcohol. What does she know? Why does he think other kids drink? Listen carefully and without judgement while your child shares with you.
- Share some important facts on alcohol. A well-informed teenager is more likely to make good decisions.
- People tend to be very bad at understanding or comprehending how alcohol has affected them. Anyone can develop a drinking problem.
- It generally takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave a person’s system. Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off” does not speed up the process.
- Beer & wine are not “safer” than liquor (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, etc.). A 12-ounce can of beer (about 5 percent alcohol), a 5-ounce glass of wine (about 12 percent alcohol), and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol) all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and mind.
Alcohol slows down the body and mind. It’s a drug that impairs coordination and vision, slows reaction time, and prevents clear thinking, and judgment.
- In talking with your child, give them some good reasons NOT to drink. Don’t use scare tactics; use honesty.
- You love your son or daughter and would like them to abstain from drinking alcohol.
- Drinking is illegal and dangerous. It affects younger people differently than adults.
- You want them to maintain their self-respect. Drinking isn’t dignified- more often than not it’s easier to be embarrassed by alcohol.
Having uncomfortable, honest conversations can be difficult, but the more you have these talks with your teen, the more familiar and comfortable they will become. And it’s more likely your teen will come to you when there is a problem or situation they feel upset about.
EmpowerTusc provides resources and assistance for families and individuals struggling with addiction. Visit their website at EmpowerTusc.com or give them a call at (330) 440-7319. You can also check out their list of local resources for those struggling with addiction, dependency, grief, anxiety/depression, and more.
Audrey Mattevi, Reporting