Parent Handbook For Talking With Teens About Alcohol

posted Sep 15, 2012, 8:12 AM by Maria Geueke   [ updated Sep 15, 2012, 8:31 AM ]
Being a parent is intensely rewarding, but also deeply challenging. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have issued a handbook for parents about talking with teens about alcohol. The teen brain focuses on what's happening right now. When a teen thinks ahead, it usually means he or she is wondering about what to do this weekend, not next year. That's why your son or daughter isn't terribly concerned about the future. This puts teens at a disadvantage when they face choices about risky behaviors that can have long-term consequences, such as drinking.

Facts and tips from MADD's handbook:
1. Most teens say their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking.
2. The changes teens go through affect how they think about alcohol.
3. By focusing on obedience, authoritarian parents lose their ability to influence their teen through reasoned discussion or to help them develop good thinking skills.
4. Parents Do Make a Difference. Despite how you may feel sometimes, research shows that parents are an important influence on whether or not teens chose to drink alcohol.
5. Positive parenting is generally the most effective parenting style.
6. Teens do care about their parent's opinions. They especially respond well to a positive parenting style.
7. Suspend your critical judgement while you listen attentively. This is probably the single most important aspect of good communication.
8. We have parents who teach basic family values, like honesty and responsibility, but never discuss alcohol directly with their kids.
9. Emphasize to teens how quickly drinking can lead to dangerous results. That's why you take underage drinking so seriously.
10. Speak with respect and appreciation and choose a good time. Don't do it when the other person is rushed or has a commitment elsewhere.

To learn more about talking to your teen about alcohol and to read the full handbook, click here.