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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, May 1, 2017

Talk,They’ll Listen

Answering a Child’s Tough Questions about Alcohol

As your child becomes curious about alcohol, he or she may turn to you for answers and advice.
Use this opportunity to start an open, honest conversation about drinking. Because some questions can be difficult to answer, it is important to be prepared. The following are some common questions and answers about underage drinking.

“I got invited to a party. Can I go?”
Ask your child if an adult will be present at the party or if he or she thinks children will be drinking. Remind them that even being at a party where there is underage drinking can get him or h into trouble. Use this time to establish or reinforce your rules about alcohol and outline the behavior you expect.

“Did you drink when you were a kid?”
Don’t let your past stop you from talking to your child about underage drinking. If you drank as a teenager, be honest. Acknowledge it was risky. Make sure to emphasize we now know even more about the risks to children who drink underage. You could even give your child an example of a painful moment that occurred because of your underage drinking.

“What if my friends ask me to drink?”
Helping your child say “no” to peer pressure is one of the most important things you can do to keep him or her alcohol-free. Work with your child to think of a way to handle this situation, whether it is simply saying, “No, I don’t drink,” or saying, “I promised my mom (or dad) that I wouldn’t drink.”

“Why is alcohol bad for me?”
Don’t try to scare your child about drinking or tell him or her, “You can’t handle it.” Instead, tell your child that alcohol can be bad for his or her growing brain, interferes with judgment, and can make him or her sick. Once children hear the facts and your opinions about them, it is easier for you to make rules and enforce them.

5 Conversation Goals

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.
More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.
Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.
You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.
You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.
Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.
Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.