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The Alcohol Talk: An ongoing interactive conversation

Pre-prom is a good time to talk about drinking with teens.
Pre-prom is a good time to talk about drinking with teens.
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As the school year comes to a close, chances are your teen will have many opportunities to celebrate with friends. Where, how and when he celebrates can cause much stress and concern for a parent. If your child is already a teen, chances are you have had ‘the alcohol talk’ with her. Most parents acknowledge how important it is to address this topic with their teens.

The issue for the majority of parents however is not what needs to be communicated, but how. A new website: www.thealcoholtalk.com provides parents with a great resource for figuring out how to talk to their teens about the topic.

The alcohol talk for example, should not be a one shot deal. Discussing the concerns related to underage drinking is most effective when talk is consistent and interactive. This site offers input from parents, experts, and most importantly teens on how to start the talk and keep the conversation going.

The survey conducted in relation to this project, reaffirmed what most parenting experts already know, many kids first become aware of alcohol as young as fourth and fifth grade. In contrast, when surveyed, the majority of parents assume this awareness does not begin until 6th grade. This means parents should start talking early and often.

The best way to address the issue is by looking for opportunities to get a teen’s input. Asking for your teen’s opinion about a well-known celebrity’s drunken escapades for example, can offer an ideal opportunity to hear what a teen has to say. At times like this, parents are best served by listening. This will provide some insight into what a particular teen thinks, knows and feels about the topic. Opportunities for parents to engage their teens in conversation about the topic tend to occur often. If for example, your teen starts telling you about a high school party that got out of hand, or an alcohol related accident, hear him out. Her favorite television show or a recent movie may also provide premier material for such a conversation.

Although parents may feel as if their teen is more likely to turn to a friend for advice and guidance, the research is clear, parents have more influence on what teens believe and do than most parents think. Parents should also be aware that how they act matters. Teens take their cues from their parents. Parents who model responsible behavior, send an important message to their teens. Re-affirming for parents that what you say and do matters much.

In addition to knowing what to say, it is important for parents to devise strategies to keep informed about their teen’s behavior. Parents and teens are also best served when they create preventative plans. As the site highlights, when surveyed, a majority of teens relate that they drink because of peer pressure. Providing teens with ways to deal with this type of stress is important. One suggestion is to create a code word. When a teen texts or calls with a pre-established word parents are alerted to pick their teen up immediately.

The warmer weather provides many opportunities for teens to get together. Events such as prom and graduation parties provide prime opportunities for teens and parents to re-review rules and discuss concerns and expectations. When parents and teens talk together often, bonds are affirmed and enhanced. Consistent communication is the key to responsible, safe, and healthy behavior.