Saturday, January 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

How to talk to teens about alcohol

Need some help to talk to your teen about alcohol? Today is PowerTalk 21, the annual day that Mothers Against Drunk Driving sets aside to urge parents and teens to start the conversation.

MADD has a free Power of Parents website available at www.madd.org with resources on starting the potentially lifesaving conversation.

More than 6,000 people die each year because of underage drinking — more than all illegal drugs combined. And three out of four teens say their parents are the top influence on their decision whether to drink.

The stakes are high. Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to:

• Die in a car crash

• Get pregnant

• Flunk school

• Be sexually assaulted

• Become an alcoholic later

• Commit suicide

But scare tactics alone won't make for a great ice-breaker. Here are some conversation tips from MADD, just in time for prom and graduation season:

Do it with a caring attitude. Start by saying, ''There's been a lot of talk about alcohol at teen parties and it's been weighing on my mind. We need to talk about this because I care about your health and your safety. Can you give me a few minutes?"

It's OKAY if you stumble. The fact that you've opened the discussion is likely to have an impact. Admit to your kid, "I may not do this right, but if I don't do this I'll feel like a bad parent."

It's the law. This is actually a reason kids respect. Most teens know it is illegal to drink under the age of 21. Still, they may assume they won't get caught, or they don't know that teens aren't permitted to drive after having any amount of alcohol. Remind your son or daughter that police do receive complaints about parties, and may arrest everyone underage who has been drinking. Discuss the potential consequences, such as losing their license, incurring legal fees, being publicly humiliated, even losing out on scholarships. And if they're drinking while driving, add death and lifelong disability to the list.

Start with questions. Do you know kids who drink? How has it affected them? Have you been offered alcohol by someone you knew? What did you say? If it hasn't happened yet, what would you say?

Don't be discouraged by silence or hostility. "Parents need to respect how a teen may feel and not force communication at a bad time,'' MADD advises. "Let the matter drop and bring it up later. Try to pick a time when your teen will be open to talking."

Expect the hot seat. Don't be surprised if your teen asks you about your own drinking history. Some parents set the ground rule that their own past is off limits and not relevant, but this can lead to suspicion and resentment. Or you confess past misdeeds and add something like this: ''However, we did not know as much as we know now about the risks of alcohol. If I had known then, I would have done things differently. "

Discuss your family's rules. Be clear and specific on the consequences for breaking the rules, such as loss of driving privileges and a much earlier curfew for a month if your teen drinks at a party. Emphasize that you hope at the end of the month they will think about making better choices.

Keep it constructive. Emphasize that you care about them, want to understand them, want to help them and respect their desire to be independent. Studies show that when teens feel they can trust their parents and are trusted by them, they are less likely to drink, MADD says.

The Whoa, Momma parenting blog is at tampabay.com. Follow Sharon and the other moms on Twitter @WhoaMomma.

Comments
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: FaceTime offense lands sister on the outs

FaceTime offense lands sister on the outsQ: When does FaceTime become an intrusion?My sister-in-law recently relocated to our area. We invited her to join us for our traditionally quiet New Yearís Eve celebration. About two hours before midnight, she...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: Cousinís husband pursues young sisters

Cousinís husband pursues young sisters Q: I just found out that my nieceís husband has made inappropriate comments/propositions to both of my daughters, one still a minor (17). I have to tell my niece, right? I donít want to hurt her.Broken HeartA: Y...
Published: 01/18/18
Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend † Gasparilla Children’s Parade: A week before the more raucous pirate invasion, the G-rated version hits the streets. The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and Parade kicks off Gasparilla season with a bicycle safety...
Published: 01/17/18
Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

PICKING AND GRINNING: Steve Martin and Martin ShortThere wasnít a lot of bluegrass being played around Hamilton, Ontario, when Martin Short was a kid. But his decades-long friendship with Steve Martin has made him a fan, which brings An Evening With ...
Published: 01/17/18

Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportionsQ: Iím a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but theyíre no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearIím 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancyQ: Iím literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I canít believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18