Kids and alcohol
June 17, 2013
by Jenni Sebora

Hopefully, summer is finally here. With summertime comes many memorable events – graduation parties, weddings, the 4th of July, and family reunions. At these get-togethers and many others, comes another opportunity for minors to have access to alcohol.

Even though society has become more aware of the dangers of underage drinking over the past few years, alcohol still remains the drug of choice for teens. In fact, more teens use alcohol than tobacco or illegal drugs.

As parents and family members, we have a great opportunity to make our children aware of the dangers of alcohol use. Children need to know that alcohol contributes to bad decision-making. Alcohol use by teens has been linked to everything from an increase in accidental deaths, increased sexual activity, poor school performance, and increased criminal activity.

Although it may be hard – as with most things – communication is the key. Children are bombarded with messages that alcohol use is OK in the music they hear, the movies they watch, and through commercials on TV.

In very few instances are children given the message that drinking can be harmful, or that it’s OK not to drink.

So, it’s up to parents, grandparents, and other family members to have that conversation.

Take time to discuss alcohol use that is occurring in a TV show and explain how or why that use is not acceptable or even illegal – as in the case of drunk driving. Make and enforce expectations that your child is not to drink alcohol. Explain the many reasons not to drink, including the health, behavioral, economic, and legal reasons, and the fact that alcohol use has no real benefits.

As parents, we can also take time to examine our own alcohol use, and what message is being sent to our children as part of that.

Do we need to change our own drinking behavior?

If there is an alcohol problem in the family, discuss that with them, as well. Be ready to answer questions your child may have about alcohol use.

We all know kids are most influenced by other kids.

Are your child’s friends using alcohol?

Get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Talk to your child about how to handle situations when they are offered alcohol, and how to respond.

Make your summer a memorable one for all the right reasons. Take time to talk to your child about alcohol, and discourage its use.

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