The consequences of alcohol addiction can be both serious and fatal. People who have watched loved ones suffer know that, and you may have even fought against such an addiction yourself. No matter what your reasoning is, you want to make sure that you approach your teenagers about the issue in a way that makes sense for them.
The Right Age
Many parents worry about the right age to start talking to their teenagers about alcohol addiction. If your children are teenagers who are or will be exposed to teen drinking, then they are old enough. Many youths start to drink early in high school, and 13 years of age is not far away from that at all. Let them know what the dangers of alcohol are to their bodies and their lives. However, don’t let this first conversation be the last one that you have. If you see a story in the news, read a startling new statistic or, don’t be afraid to revisit the topic of alcohol addiction and consumption.
The Right Time
You don’t want to wait until it is too late to have a conversation with your teenagers about drinking and alcohol addiction, especially if it is after they enter high school, or as they drive or head off to college. However, you also don’t want to have the conversation at a time that they are not ready. For example, on the day before their first day of senior year, they are probably going to be excited for the last leg of this chapter of their lives. You can remind them before they go to the homecoming party, but you should start to have these conversations earlier in the summer when their minds are more relaxed.
Know Their Friends
Not only do you want to make sure you are approaching your teenager at a time that he or she is most likely to listen, but you also want to incorporate real life examples. You do not want to sound accusatory, or your teenager is likely going to shut down. If you are aware that a friend of your child recently ran into some problems with drinking or alcohol addiction, you can mention how you don’t want your child to end up in that situation. You can try asking if his or her friends drink, but your teenager might not want to share that information. Try to know your teenager’s friend as best as you can.
Don’t Corner Them
Yes, you absolutely do need to discipline your teenagers and take away privileges when they don’t listen to your rules, but starting conversations about alcohol in a hostile manner is a sure way to make them tune out. Instead, start by offering an example of someone who you know who was injured by excessive drinking or let them know that you are concerned about things you’ve been hearing about alcohol addiction. Yelling, screaming or accusing is not the best approach to start off this tough conversation.
Enlist Another Relative
As you probably know, your teenager sometimes does not want to listen to you just because you are their parent. You certainly have to make it known that you are the parent, but you can also ask another relative to talk to your teenager about drinking. If your teenager is close with an older cousin or uncle, ask that person to have a talk with him or her. Sometimes, hearing the perspective of someone else, particularly someone whose life has negatively been affected by drinking or alcohol addiction, can help to make the point clear.
You also might want to look into programs or seminars that a local rehab center is offering that might be beneficial to your teenager. When you are in need of help with this difficult subject, give us a call to learn more information.