Talking to Teens About Drinking – Open Dialogue Tips for Parents

Disclosure: 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.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic.  I understand the effects alcohol can have on an individual — a family. Seeing this my entire life, I have made sure to talk to my children about drinking. Often. I believe the open dialogue is important and essential in reaching our children before it’s too late. Fortunately, Anheuser-Busch has shared the Family Talk About Drinking Program with parents for over 20 years to help provide tips on having an open dialog about alcohol with their children of all ages.

me and my teens

Talking to Teens About Drinking

Talking to teens about anything can be challenging if you are not readily prepared or the relationship is not already built on a solid foundation. Colby and I talk to our kids openly about everything, and we do so regularly. Therefore, when it comes to talking to teens about drinking, we can easily sit and have an engaging conversation. As we head into the latter years of their teens, we have become “The Coach.” We now focus on respecting their independence, yet still staying involved and coaching them into responsible adults.

talking to teens - prom

With prom and graduation season upon us, this may mean that situations involving their peers and alcohol may be happening more often. The time to talk is (always) now. The Family Talk About Drinking website features tips and suggestions from certified educator and parent coach MJ Corcoran that will help facilitate your conversation:

Find Windows of Opportunity to Talk

The teenage years are busy ones. School, extra-curricular activities, friends… everything starts running together. Grab any opportunity. Use events such as prom and graduation to open the dialogue. Encourage good decisions and make sure they know the proper boundaries set for the family.

Listen to Your Teen

Yes, what we have to say as parents is important, but it’s equally important that we listen to our teens. By listening to your teen and respecting what they have to say as well, they will be much more receptive to these tough conversations. Ask open-ended questions and help them properly think through possible scenarios.

Encourage Accountability

With today’s technology there are plenty of ways to stay in touch. When it comes to alcohol, a text will not always convey the real situation. Talk to your teen about calling to check in with you to simply ensure accountability. Hearing their voice, as well as possible background noises, will help you both better understand the actual circumstances.

cruising with teens

According to research from the GfK Roper Youth Report, parents have been the greatest influence on teens’ decisions about drinking alcohol for 20 years. The same report from this year also shows there has been a 24% increase in parents’ influence since 1991. Have regular, consistent conversations with your children throughout each stage of development and keep the dialogue open. Find more Family Talk Resources at familytalkaboutdrinking.com.

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