“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.”
Over the past several weeks I have shared things I’ve learned from the Family Talk About Drinking (FTAD) program. In my first FTAD post, I reviewed the Parent Guide. In my second post, I explained how I used the REAL technique from the Parent Guide with my own teens. In this final post, I want to share with you how the coaching techniques have helped me connect with my teens in a way that grants me greater understanding of them and I believe, greater influence.
Since I opened the door to talking about drinking, it’s been much easier to bring up the topic casually as windows of opportunity present themselves. For example, when listening to a song in the car I kept hearing the phrase “turn up” used in a manner that didn’t make sense to me. I asked my son and daughter what it means since it clearly wasn’t referring to turning up the volume or showing up somewhere. They explained to me that it is slang for “get drunk.” This opened up a whole conversation about colloquialisms for drinking. We gained an education about the topic on both sides. I was glad my kids spoke honestly with me about it, which I think they felt comfortable doing because I wasn’t giving them the third degree about how they came to know all of these phrases.
Just this weekend, my son spent a lot of time with his friends. He was great about keeping me informed about where he was at all times when they weren’t at our house. When they were at our house, all of the kids were friendly and sociable which gave me an opportunity to chat with them and hear about their weekend activities. I like that his group of friends opts to hang out and watch a movie while eating pizza or to jump on the trampoline or roast marshmallows instead of gathering with a bunch of other teenagers to drink beer. Sure, it’s possible that between houses, they stop in at a party where alcohol is being served. That’s why when my son is vague about his plans, I press him for details. I don’t want to make it easy for him to lie by omission. Walking the fine line between trusting your teen and holding them accountable is one of the key lessons I learned from the FTAD Parent Guide.
With graduation looming, I know that my son will be invited to a lot of parties where there will be drinking. We have had a few serious conversations about the risks of underage drinking and about driving to and from those events. Further, my son never goes alone to these events so we’ve talked about responsibility to others. I know my son is tempted at these gatherings, but I also trust that because he is intelligent and responsible, he will make smart choices in the face of temptation. I’ve made an effort to get to know all of his friends too. They know my expectations as well and they know that I like and respect each of them. I am reasonably confident that as a group they will make good choices and look out for one another.
As I’ve said before, I don’t want to isolate my kids in order to protect them from all the dangers in the world. I want to arm them with the skills and knowledge they will need to navigate difficult situations. The FTAD program helps parents do exactly that, with the wonderful side effect of strengthening the relationship between parent and child. If you haven’t already done so, please visit the FTAD website and Facebook page for more information and to download the Parent Guide.