You might find some of the research about teenage drinking surprising. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one in three teenagers said it was easy to get alcohol from their own consenting parents. One in four said they’d attended a party where teens were drinking in front of parents.
Are you wondering where’s the harm? At least there’s an adult present, right? They’re going to drink anyway, so why not have them do it somewhere safe?
There are consequences to underage drinking — none of them good
Risky sexual behavior and sexual assault
Injuries from falls
There could be legal consequences for parents
As of January 1, 2015, 21 states had enacted some form of “social host liability laws,” which hold adults (social hosts) legally liable for any injuries or damages from parties where underage drinking is allowed — no matter who supplied the alcohol and often even if the adults are away from home and had no knowledge of the party.
MADD says that having open conversations about underage drinking with your teens is one of the most effective tools for curbing it.
Makesure you let teens know that their safety and wellbeing is your main concern. Back it up with facts about alcohol — it is a powerful sedative, it is unhealthy, and it is illegal to drink under age 21. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a set of fact sheets you can use.
Make a plan with teens about how to avoid being pressured into drinking or how to extract themselves from situations that make them uncomfortable. Offer to be the “bad guy” — “My mom won’t let me come to the party” — and to come pick your child up anywhere, anytime.
Makeyour kids a part of your underage-drinking conversation and listen to their points of view respectfully.
Makerules and then stick to them.
It can be an uncomfortable conversation, and it may feel like your teen isn’t listening, but educating yourself about how teens think and make decisions can help you get through the awkwardness. Even all evidence to the contrary, at some level, your child does understand that your decisions, rules, and discussions stem from love and concern.