April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. With prom, graduation, and summer parties around the corner, it's the perfect time to talk with your kids about the importance of making smart choices, especially the choice to say ‘no’ to underage drinking. Even if your kids are too young to attend those events, they're not too young to talk with you about making good decisions, both now and when they are old enough.
The experts at Ask, Listen, Learn suggest using news articles as ways to start conversations with kids about drinking. Here are a couple news articles and a video that could all be conversation starters with your kids, as well as a blog that is an entertaining and poignant reminder of the vigilance required of parents when it comes to talking with kids about drinking and could also be a conversation starter, too.
Police chief asks parents to face the realities of teen drinking by Steven Casstevens in On Parenting - The Washington Post
"While it is necessary for parents to know and understand their state law, it doesn’t preempt consistently upholding the federal law. This spring, we must all acknowledge the uncomfortable reality that underage drinking can have a tragic ending. Further, it is never a good idea to send a message to your own children that it is okay to break the law.
This Alcohol Responsibility Month, on behalf of my fellow law enforcement officers nationwide, I am asking parents to do three things: talk with your teens about alcohol, reinforce the law, and remember that you are the leading influence in a child’s decision to drink – or not drink – alcohol. Never forget the scene at the end of the night from where I stand."
Conversation topics: Ask kids if they've thought of the many different bad endings to a night that have resulted from drinking that this police chief sites. Of those people, how many of them thought something bad would result from their decision to drink? What are the odds they would have made a different decision had they known the outcome? The chief asks "At what point do we decide enough is enough?" How would your kids answer that question?
Teen drinking: Who's trying alcohol sooner? by Steven Reinberg on CBS News
"Teenage girls in the United States now start to drink alcohol sooner than boys do, a new study shows.
'This is becoming a public health issue,' said lead researcher Dr. Hui Cheng, an adjunct assistant professor at Michigan State University.
'We really don't know why girls are surpassing boys -- that's the next question we want to answer,' she said. Among the possible explanations, according to Cheng, is that drinking has become more socially acceptable. Also, because girls typically reach puberty sooner, some start engaging in risky behaviors such as drinking earlier. It might also be that younger girls are spending time with older boys,' so there is more exposure to drinking,' she added."
Conversation topics: Ask your kids if they agree that the girls are drinking earlier in their school? Why do they think that may or may not be? Why do they think kids of either gender do and do not drink?
Rules for the Mindful Parenting of Teens by Erin Dymowski on Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
"We all want to trust our kids, we all want to think that our relationship with our kids is great, we all think that we know them so well, and we all want to believe that our kids would NEVER do something like drink or take crazy risks. Well, the very best, most involved parents I know understand that it’s not about them because kids make mistakes, kids get tripped up when cool upperclassmen pick them, and kids don’t always have the long view in mind when they are making decisions. So if nothing else, remember this: STAY VIGILANT, even if you’re on baby #17. Keep your eyes wide open for trouble. Like my dad said when he was teaching me to drive, 'It’s best to see the potholes ahead before they rip out your undercarriage.' I’m not saying there won’t be bumps in the road through teendom, but hopefully, by staying alert, you won’t be blindsided by them."
Conversation topic: You read a blog post about younger kids hanging out with older kids who have had issues with alcohol in the recent past. What would they tell a friend in a similar situation? What kind of influence do friends have over the decision to drink or not drink?
Responsibility Starts with Me
This video from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility focuses on the theme "Responsibility Starts with Me"
Conversation topic: Ask your kid what responsibility means to them, and this is a great opportunity to share what it means to you. Remember, as a parent you are the leading influence on a child’s decision to drink – or not drink – alcohol. Make your values and expectations clear.
You can find more information and tips for talking with your kids about alcohol here. What ways do you use to bring up the topic of alcohol responsibility with your kids?
Prior Post: 9 reasons to talk about sex with your kids
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Filed under: Parenting