I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
*This is part two in a three part “Family Talk About Drinking” series. See part one here.
As I mentioned in part one of this series, my son is due to graduate in a few weeks. His senior project is complete – a huge weight off his shoulders – and he is wrapping up his senior year in anticipation for graduation.
Raising teens at this age is really hard. They are on the verge of adulthood and the world is their oyster. They want to celebrate but don’t always make the wisest choices. My son is going to have Prom and Graduation Parties to attend and as a parent, I have to prepare him for some tough choices regarding drinking. I have learned through the Family Talk About Drinking guide, the best way to do that is to Be Real.
Realize our children need to have a connection with us.
Examine our own assumptions and prejudices.
Always be aware of the other influences in our kids’ lives.
Listen, because all kids (especially teens!) have a deep need to be heard.
Most of the serious conversations I have with my son happen in the car when I am driving him to work. We are alone and even though it is a small window of opportunity, I have found it to be the most effective. He wants to communicate with me and I found the best way to do so is to let him talk -without judgement. If I approach our conversations as an equal, rather than a nagging mom, he is more likely to open up and share and listen to me in return. Once he starts talking, it’s easier to ask open ended questions and gently give him guidance.
Did you know, as a parent, you are the greatest influence on your teen’s choices including the decision to drink alcohol? A 2014 report shows a 27 percent increase in parents’ influence since 1991. Here are some tips from MJ Chorcoran, Parenting Coach, to remain the #1 influence:
- Asking open-ended questions gets your teen thinking about what they would do when and if they’re offered a drink – and the potential consequences.
- Two things you can do to connect with your teen: listen and respect their opinion. In turn, they’ll be much more likely to talk with you about the tough issues – like underage drinking.
- When you have a teenager, windows of opportunity to talk can open and close fast. Use prom and graduation to continue the conversation around underage drinking. Be clear about your boundaries.
- When your teen gets invited to a graduation party, it’s the perfect window of opportunity to talk about underage drinking.
- Texting is not enough! When your teen is at a prom or graduation party, check in with a phone call instead of a text to encourage greater accountability.
I have to tell you, the toughest communication issue with my son and I was “respect”. He didn’t think I respected him or his opinion. He is 18 and wants to be treated like a man and I struggled letting go of my baby enough to treat (and respect) him as a man. As we plan his events, I am working on respecting his decision and he is working on letting me be involved in those decisions. Here is some additional advice from MJ Corcoran…
Question and Answers with MJ Corcoran, Parenting Coach
Do you find that more active teens are less likely to drink than teens that are not involved in extra-curricular activities or the opposite?
Overall, that would be the logical assumption. In my experience being active in a sport or an activity keeps children engaged. Although, parents are the number one influence on their children’s decisions about drinking alcohol, youth engagement plays an important role as well because active teens have to practice responsibility, balance and discipline more than teens not involved.
How should you address questions regarding what you did in your youth?
Being honest and open with your children may enable them to return that transparency and trust. How much to share with your children about your youth is a personal decision that parents should determine with their spouses. The important thing is to begin the dialog, listen to your children’s concerns and coach them in making smart decisions about avoiding alcohol.
How do you get kids to even listen or pay attention to you on these topics?
It starts with listening to them first. Then look for those windows of opportunity to bring up the topic. In between those opportunities build your relationship with your child. Just because you don’t think they are listening, doesn’t mean your kids don’t hear you. Continue reaching out to them, asking open-ended questions and providing guidance on ways they can avoid alcohol. Research shows that parents are the No. 1 influence in their children’s decisions about drinking alcohol.
The Family Talk About Drinking Parent Guide provides some questions to help you get the conversation started like “If there is drinking at a party, what will you do?” or “If your friends wanted to drink, how would you handle it?”
Do you think a parent drinking at home has any influence on whether their children will drink?
Alcohol is for adults 21 and older who choose to drink. As a parent, we serve as an example for our children. If you choose to drink, as an adult, do so responsibly. Be sure your actions match what you’re telling them, for instance use a designated driver.
How much should you share about your personal history & experience (hint, I really don’t want to share much).
This is a personal decision and the focus is on their decisions and choices. Being honest and open with your children may enable them to return that transparency and trust. How much to share with your children about your youth is a personal decision that parents should determine with their spouses. The important thing is to begin the dialog, listen to your children’s concerns and coach them in making smart decisions about avoiding alcohol.
We’re doing college orientation soon with our daughter, what should we be asking the staff & resident dorm advisors about drinking?
College orientation is a perfect time to become familiar with the University’s policies for underage drinking. Ask the staff and resident advisors what consequences the student will face if they are drinking underage. What process does the university take and who all is involved? (faculty, parents, etc.)
MJ Corcoran has worked with parents for the past 20 years and has created a powerful parenting program that will help you make the changes to create more cooperation, connection, mutual respect and fun in your family. In 2011, MJ collaborated with Anheuser-Busch to refresh and expand the Family Talk About Drinking guide to become a program that parents can turn to throughout the parenting process, no matter how old their kids may be.
You can download the Parent Guide here.
Stay tuned for our next post which will cover “How To Put What You’ve Learned Into Practice”.
I have teamed up with Family Talk About Drinking to offer my readers a chance to win a $25 Visa eGift Card – a great opportunity towards quality time with your teenager to jumpstart conversations prior to the prom, graduation or high school parties.