Being a parent isn’t always fun, and there is no blueprint to follow. We learn over time what works and what doesn’t and we try our best with the information we have. But we all make mistakes.
One of the mistakes that we, as parents, often make is avoiding important conversations that we should have with our children. From drugs to sex, there are going to be uncomfortable conversations between us and our teens, and believe it or not, this is a good thing. Having these conversations opens up opportunities to discuss these topics, which will have a positive impact on our children.
So let’s talk about alcohol. In Iroquois County, six out of ten teens say their parents have talked with them about alcohol in the past year according to the 2016 Illinois Youth Survey. This means that 40% of teens haven’t had this discussion with their parents in the last year. Whether you have or haven’t talked about alcohol with your teen recently, here are eight reasons you should today:
1. They ARE Listening
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether what you say actually has an impact on your children or if it’s going in one ear and out the other. They are listening. Over 80% of young people ages 10-18 say that their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink.
2. Their Lives Change Everyday
Friends, grades, and who they have a crush on can all change from day to day. Having a conversation about alcohol just once or twice isn’t enough. Even if they get tired of you talking to them about choosing to say no to alcohol, they will know exactly where you stand and will have that information top of mind when someone asks them if they want a drink.
3. Alcohol Consumption Among Teens in our County is High
Consistently, 8th-12th graders in Iroquois County are shown to consume alcohol at a higher rate than the state average according to the Illinois Youth Survey. The more teens that drink in our county, the more likely your child has been offered and/or accepted a drink. As the risk of your teen drinking increases, so should the importance you place on talking to them about it.
4. Peer Pressure is Extremely Difficult to Handle
“C’mon, it’s just one drink.”
Teens want to fit in with their peers. When they are pressured to drink with their friends or a group of teens they know from school, it can be hard to say no. Having you on their side, supporting them, and explaining why they shouldn’t start drinking will help them be able to say no when it matters the most.
5. You Can’t Assume They Won’t Try It
You think very highly of your teens, and for good reason. You’re proud of them and know that you’ve tried your best in raising them right. However, it’s a mistake to assume your teens won’t be curious about or even try alcohol. This is why talking to them about it early and often is so important.
6. Help Them Help Friends
Even if your teen isn’t drinking, it’s very likely that they have friends that are. Opening up a line of communication with your teen about drinking may help them better discuss the topic with friends and even help friends who are struggling with drinking at an early age.
7. It’s Against the Law
Drinking is illegal for children under the age of 21. If your teen is caught drinking, they can be fined, lose their driver’s license, and potentially placed in jail for drinking. Help them avoid getting in trouble with the law by explaining that it is illegal and fines and charges against them could hurt their chances of being accepted into college and finding a job.
8. Alcohol Has a Negative Impact on Health and Development
Your teen is not done growing yet. Drinking interferes with physical health and brain development. It can also impair their judgement and lead to risky and bad decisions, causing injury or even death.
Just taking the time to read this article proves that you are an active and caring parent. Now it’s time to have what could be an uncomfortable talk with your teen, because it’s important and can help decrease the chances your teen will be negatively affected by alcohol in the present and the future.
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Do you agree with us? Comment below and share why you think having a conversation with teens about underage drinking is so important?