The greatest influence on young people’s decisions to begin drinking or doing other drugs is the world they live in, including family, friends, schools, and the community environment.
PARENTS, you should know that the greatest influences on teens decision to be free from using alcohol or other drugs is YOU.
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking)
Sometimes parents are not sure how to have the conversation, and so may avoid it entirely. When was the last time you talked to your children about alcohol? Has it been a while? Are you wondering how to have the conversation?
It’s never too early to talk to your kids about alcohol. If you talk to them directly and honestly they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol use.
Here are some considerations to begin having these important conversations:
Short and frequent discussions can have a real impact on your child’s decisions about alcohol. Sitting down for the “big talk” about alcohol can be intimidating for both you and your child. Little talks take the pressure off of trying getting all the information out in one lengthy discussion, and your child will be less likely to tune you out. Try using these opportunities to talk; in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV. And remember, the conversation goes both ways. It’s important to hear their point of view and listen to their feelings, concerns too.
They may even ask some tough questions like “Did you drink when you were a kid?” If you drank as a teenager, you’ll probably want to be honest but acknowledge that it was risky. Or, “Why do you drink?” you could point out that when you choose to drink it’s always in moderation to enhance a meal, or celebrate a special occasion with friends or family. You could also share with them that some people should not drink at all. Make a clear distinction between alcohol use among children and among adults.
Here’s another example of a great opportunity to talk about the risks of drinking: With football season in full swing we can expect to see more alcohol advertisements on TV. Studies show that exposure to enticing alcohol advertisements can influence young adolescent perceptions about acceptable drinking behavior and underage drinking in general. So talk about it… Not in a “Wow, that was a cool ad they had on during the Super Bowl,” kind of way. More like this; “Wow, they really make drinking alcohol look cool, don’t they? But drinking alcohol can really get people into lots of trouble — let’s talk about it”.
The Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County is partnering with SAMSHA to prevent underage drinking. Visit these web links for more information on the Talk they Hear You Campaign and other helpful tips and resources: