Set agreements for no alcoholPublished 4:47pm Saturday, July 21, 2012
QUESTION: What are realistic family rules about alcohol use for our teenagers?
ANSWER: Research shows that children are less likely to begin drinking alcohol when parents establish clear “no alcohol” rules and expectations. In order to be effective, each family needs to develop agreements about teen alcohol use that honestly reflect their own beliefs and values. Some possible family rules about drinking are:
•Kids will not drink alcohol until they are 21.
•Older siblings will not encourage younger brothers or sisters to drink and will not give them alcohol.
•Kids will not stay at teen parties where alcohol is served.
•Kids will not ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
Parents, grandparents and other special relatives are important role models for kids of all ages. You do not have to abstain from alcohol to lessen the likelihood that your children will become drinkers of alcohol before they are adults. What is important is how you use alcohol yourself.
•If you use alcohol, drink moderately.
•Don’t communicate to your child that alcohol is a good way to handle problems. For example, don’t come home from work and say, “I had a rotten day. I need a drink.”
Let your child see that you have other, healthier ways to cope with stress: exercise, music, or talking things over with your spouse or a friend.
•Don’t tell your kids stories about your own drinking in a way that conveys the message that alcohol is funny or glamorous.
•Never drink and drive or ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
•When you entertain other adults, make available alcohol free beverages and plenty of food. If anyone drinks too much at your party, make arrangements for them to get home safely.
Never be the one to serve alcohol to adolescents. Surveys show that teens are most likely to get their first alcohol from parents, either their own parents or someone else’s.
That may mean that kids are openly helping themselves to the beer in the refrigerator or the alcoholic drinks at a family celebration, or sneaking alcohol from the liquor cabinet, or that a parent has actually purchased alcohol for a teen party.
Remember that it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors who are not family members and that the criminal and civil penalties if there is a resulting injury or death are severe.
If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-0528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.