“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”
I am excited to announce that I am participating in the “Family Talk About Drinking” ambassador program. As the mother of four children, two of whom are teens, I have a lot of concerns about underage drinking and its potential influence and effect on my kids. I’m so happy to connect with a program that takes this issue seriously and I’m excited to share the resources with you to help you address it within your own families.
As an ambassador, I will be posting a total of three times about the program. This is the first of the series so you can expect to see two more articles on this topic in the coming months.
A few weeks ago I posted an article about asking for donations based on my experience getting sponsors for my son’s high school after-prom. It was easy for me to ask businesses to support the event because after-prom provided a safe, alcohol-free environment where the kids could have fun after the dance.
Of course, part of our job as parents is to prepare our children to go out into the real world and handle problems using their own sound judgment. We can’t, and shouldn’t, try to shelter them indefinitely since doing so doesn’t equip them with the skills they will need to confront difficult situations. So, though I love that after-prom provided a healthy alternative to teen parties that might involve drinking, this is a solution for a single night of the year.
I don’t want to helicopter parent my teens. Instead, I want to share my expectations and trust them to make good choices. The Family Talk About Drinking program provides great resources to help me do exactly that.
Surprisingly, the first step in the program doesn’t involve talking to your teen at all. Before you can have a conversation with your child about drinking, you need to have a clear idea of what your own views and values are.
- What do you really think about alcohol?
- What do you think about underage drinking?
- What rules do you want your child to follow regarding drinking?
- Do your actions match what you are communicating to your child?
- What do you want to achieve by talking with your teen?
- You are a teacher for the first several years of your child’s life. During this time, you are your child’s primary source of information about alcohol.
- When your child is between 8 and 13, you act as a facilitator. In this role, you help your kids make sense of a complicated world as you incorporate family values into their decisions about alcohol.
- Once your child becomes a teenager, you become the coach. You will help guide your children through situations where they may encounter alcohol so they are prepared to deal with them.
Some important tips to keep in mind as you are coaching your teen are to:
- Exhibit that you trust your child by setting clear boundaries.
- Affirm and encourage the good choices they’ve made up to this point.
- Listen with an open mind.
- Encourage smart decisions by helping your teenager think through possible scenarios that involve alcohol.
An area I wasn’t addressing was setting expectations. I’m guilty of assuming that my kids know what I expect of them. The constant reminders I have to give to get them to do chores around the house should have tipped me off that I need to be clearer and more vocal about my expectations. I have told my 16-year old son that I expect that he will behave responsibly and refrain from drinking. I have also communicated to him that if he is ever in a situation where he has to decide whether or not to ride in (or drive) a vehicle with a driver that is under the influence, that he is to call me for a ride and I will provide it with no questions asked. Yes, I expect him not to drink and not to hang out with friends who drink, but if he or any of his friends make that mistake, I don’t want him to make a worse one because he is afraid of what I will say or do.
These are just some of the tips I gathered from the Parent Guide. If you’d like to talk to your teen about drinking, I encourage you to download your own copy.