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

Be R-E-A-L
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”.


Family Talk About Drinking Website and Facebook Page

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.


About Melanie

Melanie has been awesome since she was born, so she's quite the expert on the subject. Never mind that everyone else has been doing the same thing. All that matters is that she is an expert. Melanie knows awesome.

31 Thoughts on “Family Talk About Drinking: “Be REAL” when communicating with your teen! {Visa Card Giveaway} #FamilyTalk #MC

  1. alicia k (Petite Pilates Pixie) on May 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm said:

    i learned to ask open ended questions; not yes or no ones

  2. Jessie C. on May 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm said:

    Even at a young age, kids have a pretty sophisticated ability to know when they’re truly being listened to, and when they’re just being tolerated.

  3. steve weber on May 12, 2014 at 8:33 pm said:

    I learned to ask questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no.

  4. jeri boss on May 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm said:

    i want to win this

  5. Gina M on May 13, 2014 at 3:06 am said:

    I learned to be prepared to listen to your child’s point-of-view, and not to let your own experiences get in the way.

    Entered the rafflecopter form as “Wild Orchid”

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  6. lissa crane on May 13, 2014 at 3:08 am said:

    I learned the difference between the traditional approach and the coaching approach. You have to ask open ended questions and practice what to do in case they get in a bad situation. It kinds of reminds me of a fire drill, you have to be prepared. I have a teen and I appreciate the advice!

  7. latanya on May 13, 2014 at 5:14 am said:

    There is no one-size-fits-all formula for preventing underage drinking. For every parent, it’s a custom job, requiring the love and experience only you have with your children.

  8. Beth Hill on May 13, 2014 at 5:56 am said:

    Being a Mom of 2 teenage boys right now, I have had many conversations about this topic! I learned from reading this though, that you can not protect them from the World but try to give them the skills they need to make smart decisions. I can not say that enough!!! All I get is “MOM I KNOW”.

  9. D Schmidt on May 13, 2014 at 6:03 am said:

    Visited and learned This guide won’t preach. It won’t prescribe a 12-step plan for success. The goal is simply to offer some practical, ongoing strategies for having deeper, more meaningful conversations about alcohol with your children – no matter how old they are.

  10. Lisa Brown on May 13, 2014 at 6:09 am said:

    I learned: kids have a pretty sophisticated ability to know when they’re truly being listened to…so true!

  11. kelly tupick on May 13, 2014 at 7:14 am said:

    I learned of the way coaching approach and the traditional approach of asking questions and to be prepared yourself before sitting down with your child.

  12. Elle on May 13, 2014 at 7:29 am said:

    I learned that it’s important to continue the conversation even once children become 21 are are technically adults.

  13. Amanda Sakovitz on May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

    I learned a traditional yes or no question to ask teens is Do your friends drink?

  14. Thomas Murphy on May 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm said:

    I learned Until they’re about seven years old, our children aren’t really capable of making choices based on intellectual reasoning. The part of the brain that handles abstract thought — the cortex — isn’t fully developed.

  15. Ashley Tucker on May 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm said:

    I learned you need to set boundaries with kids.

  16. Kenny F on May 13, 2014 at 8:37 pm said:

    ask open ended questions

  17. Kelly D on May 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm said:

    I learned that from age 8-13 kids become susceptible to outside influences

  18. Tara on May 15, 2014 at 6:57 am said:

    The first step is asking yourself some tough questions – not talking to your kids.

  19. Sarah Hayes on May 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm said:

    i learned the importance of asking questions that get the kid involved in the conversation. not just questions they can say yes or no to

  20. Susan Christy on May 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm said:

    Learned how to listen with an open mind

  21. I learned with that with teens that it is best not to open discussions with an agenda but with an open mind listening.

  22. Mami2jcn on May 18, 2014 at 5:40 am said:

    I learned that from age 8-13 kids become susceptible to outside influences. That’s scary because I have 9 and 11 year old sons.

  23. Nancy Loring on May 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm said:

    I learned that you need to talk to your kids in a way that they can understand. You have to let them express themselves openly and freely.

  24. Nancy Loring on May 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm said:

    I liked your review on A Moms Night Out. I have been wanting to see this movie. I’m glad that you found it so funny. I hate when you think a movie will be funny and it isn’t. Patricia Heaton has heen a favorite of mine since Everybody loves Raymond. Great cast for this movie.

  25. katherine on May 20, 2014 at 11:39 am said:

    I learned the importance of addressing the problem with each child – As the website said, we know each child is different. What works for one might not work for another.

  26. christine jessamine on May 20, 2014 at 7:24 pm said:

    I like the listening with an open mind approach

  27. Seyma Shabbir on May 21, 2014 at 6:47 pm said:

    I love that it says each child is different and gives 2 methods, yes or no questions and coaching for handling questions.

  28. lisa on May 22, 2014 at 4:22 am said:

    You have to ask open ended questions

  29. Dawn Sweeps on May 22, 2014 at 10:56 am said:

    I love the question and conversation starters that are on this page. What a help!

  30. amanda whiltey on May 26, 2014 at 8:23 am said:

    i learned the first step is to ask ourselves important questions such as What rules do we want to communicate? Are we prepared to back up our advice with our own actions?

  31. Pingback: Family Talk About Drinking: How To Put What You’ve Learned Into Practice! #FamilyTalk #MC | Kate n' Kaboodle

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