Parents and teens

Parents and teens

Alcohol and your teen

Talking with your teen about alcohol is one of the most important conversations you’ll have! Setting good ground rules, modelling responsible drinking behaviour and arming your teen with the facts about alcohol will help them make better choices around drinking.

Step up and have the talk!

Just like when you had the sex talk with your kids, talking about alcohol, parties and staying safe can seem a daunting task. But you have influence - and you can ensure your kids have the right information to make better choices.

Delay, delay, delay

Teenagers’ brains are still developing, which means they are more susceptible to alcohol-related harm. Even small amounts can harm a young person so it’s best to delay introducing your teen to alcohol for as long as possible.

Give them the facts

That means knowing the facts for yourself - so it’s time to school up! Find out how the body processes alcohol, the short and long-term effects of drinking, your legal obligations and how drinking affects your teen. Arm them with knowledge to back up the rules you set and keep the lines of communication open. Your teen may not always make the right choices, so it’s crucial they know they can talk to you and you’ll be there if something goes wrong. There are some great online resources on or go to drinking & health to find out more.

Set and enforce the ground rules

Consistency is key with every aspect of parenting and rules around drinking is no different. Every family will make different choices around how they introduce alcohol and that’s up to you! Just make sure your teen understands what the rules are.

Be a good role model

Role modelling responsible drinking behaviour makes a huge difference to how your teen will drink. Eating together before your teen goes out, talking about their plans and how they’ll keep safe, ensuring your own drinking stays within safe drinking guidelines and reminding your teen that you’re always there for them at the end of the night are all ways you can help your teen learn to drink smarter.

What does the law say?

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act the minimum legal age for the purchase of alcohol in New Zealand is 18 years. New Zealand has no minimum legal drinking age.

In other words, although those under 18 are unable to legally purchase alcohol themselves, they are legally permitted to consume alcohol.

The law is based on the premise that parents should determine how and when their children are introduced to alcohol, so it makes it illegal for anyone to supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years without the consent of their parent or guardian.