Last Updated on December 10, 2019 by Valarie Ward
By now you’ve noticed a strong theme on our blog. We’ve been flooding your feed with underage drinking topics ranging from myths to news, and there’s a reason why.
The first step to reducing underage drinking in North Carolina is starting the conversation. Talking to your tween or teen about alcohol is tough. And we know it. That’s why we’re helping parents like you create a toolbox filled with the tools needed to talk to and guide your son or daughter.
Today, we’re going to discuss five actions you can take as a parent to prevent underage drinking. It all starts at home, and you can make a sizeable impact just by focusing on your child.
#1: Monitor What Goes On At Home
Do you keep alcohol in your home? Most parents do, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. But you do have a responsibility to monitor alcohol use within your home.
It’s your job to make it clear to your son or daughter that you do not allow unchaperoned parities at the house. Inviting friends over is fine, but not without your being home.
The more your child entertains in your home, the more you’ll be present to observe their friends and activities. You’ll have a better idea of the people influencing them, and you’ll be able to monitor any interest in alcohol.
Even if you’re home to monitor social gatherings, take steps to ensure alcohol is out of sight and out of reach. If needed, keep all alcohol in a locked space.
#2: Be Aware of Your Child’s Activities
Now, we’re not advising you to put a tracker on your kid, even though it might seem like the best option at times! Tweens and teens are growing into independence. They need privacy and space, but this never negates the need to know what your child is doing.
As much as your child may fight it, make it point to ask about their plans. Know where they are going, with who, and what they are planning to do. Even though they might fight you, your interest shows you care. And that really does matter.
You might be surprised by how open your child becomes when they realize you’re not being nosey; you’re showing you care.
#3: Institute Rules
Parenting is far from easy, and instituting rules can sometimes make it harder. Parenting.com has a great article on just why kids need rules.
Children need limits. They need expectations. They need something to strive for, and you can give them that.
As you develop family rules, consider instituting a clear set of “no alcohol” rules and expectations. Parents who do so have children who are less likely to begin drinking.
You’ll need to create rules that best fit your beliefs and values, but here are some suggestions to get you thinking:
- No drinking until the age of 21.
- Siblings over the age of 21 will not encourage younger siblings to drink or give them alcohol.
- No staying at parties where alcohol is being served.
- No riding in a car with a driver who was drinking.
#4: Connect With Other Parents
They say it takes a village to raise a child, so why try to go it alone?
Connecting with other parents is useful in a few ways. For starters, it gets you in contact with the parents and guardians of your child’s friends. This helps you keep closer tabs on your child while also fostering new relationships and friendships. Before you know it, you’ll have your own private parent support group! And the parents you connect with will probably be as appreciative as you for some much needed support.
Parents who connect also have the ability to better monitor the activities of their children. No parent can be in two places at once, and sometimes you won’t be able to host that party at your house. Wouldn’t it be helpful for a parent you know and trust to step in? You’ll never know who you can trust if you don’t connect.
#5: Set a Good Example
“Do as I say, not as I do!”
These are the most failed words in all of parenting.
We are all visual learners. Examples speak volumes while spoken words fly through our ears at the speed of…well, sound.
As a parent or guardian, you hold the most powerful influence over your child, and the bulk of that power is in your example. You have the unique opportunity to be a friend and a role model. Use it wisely by…
- Drinking responsibly. Show your son or daughter what it means to use alcohol moderately.
- Drinking for the right reasons. Don’t come home and drink because you’ve had a bad day as this only teaches your child to use alcohol as an escape. Instead, show them the right reasons for moderately drinking, such as in celebration.
- Not drinking and driving. Never, ever drink and then drive or ride with a driver who has been drinking. This is telling your child that drunk driving is okay.
- Serving non-alcoholic beverages at adult parties. When you entertain for adults at your home, serve non-alcoholic beverages. It will teach your child that alcohol is a must for parties. If someone does drink while at your house, make sure they get home safely without drinking or driving.
Helping Your Child Say No
Underage drinking is a choice, and your child has the power to say no. You can help them by taking the five actions we just discussed.
In closing, we want to leave you with one last thought: nobody is perfect.
You will make mistakes. Your child will make mistakes, too.
Admitting your mistakes can strengthen the parent-child relationship. When your child sees that you make and recover from mistakes, they become more likely to admit to their own mistakes and seek help when they need it.
We can end underage drinking, one child and one parent at a time. Will you be the next parent to start the conversation?