Don't drink like I did
19th Dec 2018
It’s hard to accept your child claiming independence and growing up. Almost overnight, they go from asking for your help and advice on everything they do to turning their noses up at your suggestions and turning to their peers for support.
As parents, we face these teenage years with fear and trepidation – as much for the memories of our own lost teenage years as for any real threats facing our children. Especially when it comes to drinking alcohol, how do we stop our kids making the same foolish decisions we once made?
It’s easy to think that drinking alcohol is just a stage that all teenagers go through as a form of rebellion. But puberty is a tough time for teenagers and drinking can become a crutch or a way to distract themselves from school or friend pressures. Peer pressure is increasingly becoming a larger problem as the influence of social media grows, meaning that pressures more easily infiltrate the home. Relying on alcohol can lead to lifelong problems, and it’s important to remember every drink is affecting a teenager’s brain development.
But according to our research, parents are still the greatest influencers of a teenager’s drinking behaviours. Talking to them about alcohol safety, sharing tips around how to drink more responsibly and becoming your teen’s go-to person if things go wrong is essential to helping your teen get through these difficult years. It’s also vital that responsible drinking behaviours are modelled at home so that your kids see that alcohol can be part of a safe social environment.
My teenagers know that if they feel unsafe, I will pick them up at any time of the day or night, with no questions asked until the morning. My wife and I have encouraged openness around the topic of drinking and regularly talk with the kids about alcohol and where dangerous drinking can lead. We try to subvert the idea that drinking to excess is cool or funny and answer any questions they have honestly, while limiting the “battle stories” that my parents once told me about their first time drinking.
We also understand that our teens, like many young people, are likely to make mistakes and when they do, we’ll be there to help pick them up.
To find out more, go to https://cheers.org.nz/parents-and-teens/