Attention parents: the majority of adolescents drink alcohol, and whether you like it or not, your teenage child may in fact be among them. This is a reality that naturally many parents want to deny, but the best way to combat this problem is with honesty. You may have to accept certain decisions your teen makes, but you can also help guide your child to better decisions.
First of all, remind yourself that just because your child may drink, it does not necessarily mean that child has or will develop a problem. Drinking is something many teens experiment with, and certainly all those who drink do not become alcoholics. So the drinking alone is not cause for major anxiety. To keep the communication as open as possible between your teen and yourself, use these tactics:
HONESTY. If you wish your child wouldn’t drink, you can tell them so. This may or may not have an effect on your teen’s behavior, but at least you put your thoughts out there. But take the honesty one step further and tell your child that the most important thing is the child’s safety, and you’d rather receive a phone call at 3 a.m. than find out your child ever got in the car with a drunk driver. Be adamant in this point so your child knows you aren’t kidding. And if your child ever in fact calls you for a ride as you requested, reinforce this behavior by not asking any questions or punishing the teen for drinking. Instead of asking you for that ride your teen could have gotten in a car with a drunk driver or even been that drunk driver – so if you’d prefer your teen calling you, then make him or her feel it’s okay to ask you for that ride anytime with no negative repercussions.
GROUND RULES. You may have to accept your lack of control over whether your teen drinks, but you still can set limits. Make sure to make your own home free of underage drinking, and explain to your child that to have kids drink there behind your back would be disrespectful to you. Parents can get into a lot of trouble if something happens to an underage teen after drinking at their house. If your kids respect you, they should not open a possibility for getting you into such undeserved trouble.
Recent studies have suggested that adolescents who experiment with substances may actually be healthier psychologically than both substance abusers and those who never experimented. Substance use, in moderation, often signifies curiosity and a personality prone to exploration and love of adventure.