Start The Conversation Today
Many young people who start drinking before age 21 do so when they are about 13-14 years old. That's why it's important to start talking early and keep talking about underage drinking. And that's why ALL adults working with young people should send the same message that underage drinking is not okay.
Early Discussions with Your Kids
It is important to start talking early with kids about alcohol, but sometimes it is hard to figure out what to say. Often a news story or a family incident can spark a conversation about alcohol use. Here are some sample conversation starters you can try with your kids.
"We just want to remind you that the rule in our house is that kids under 21 don't drink. It is dangerous and against the law"
"Did you know that Uncle John has problems with alcohol, and that alcoholism runs in our family? That means that there is even more chance that alcohol is dangerous for you, especially when your body is still developing"
"You know you are taking some medications, and you should know tha some medicines don't interact well with alcohol. Not only is it dangerous for young people, but it would be especially risky for you."
"Did you see those young people at the baseball game who had too much to drink? Scary, isn't it? It is important that you know that it is not smart to drink too much and especially dangerous when you are under 21."
"We are concerned that kids are using alcohol at younger and younger ages, and someone might offer you some. We want to make sure you know that you are too young to drink and that we would be very disappointed if you decided to drink. And if one of your friends is drinking and in trouble, please help by coming to us."
"We need to talk about drinking. You know how we feel about it. Listen, when you are drinking, it screws up your judgement, and you could really get hurt. We don't want you drinking."
If Underage Drinking Has Occurred
If you have discovered your child is drinking or suspect that it could happen, don't wait to have the conversation. The sooner you begin discussing the issue the sooner you can change the behavior.
"You know, it is not true that everyone drinks - not everyone is doing it. You need to be aware that you are making a very poor decision when you drink and that you do not have to drink to have fun."
"We are really disappointed that you made the decision to drink. Let's talk about our famil rules and underage drinking. It is harmful to you physically and mentally at this age."
"This is an important stage of development for you, and alcohol really gets in the way of you growing up healthy. We want you to have all the opportunities you can have and alcohol can seriously damage your future."
"When you drink, you are putting your future and our family at risk. There are serious legal consequences that can affect everyone in the house. You need to really think about these things before you do something stupid like drinking."
"I've noticed that alcohol is missing from our house. If you or your friends have taken it, we need to talk about that."
"It is such a shame you decided to drink when you know our house rules. I want you to think about the consequences of your decision. We'll talk tomorrow when you are sober."
Conversations with Other Parents
While your kids might say that no other parents call to check out the situation at other homes, it is a smart thing to do and many parents are doing it. Here are some ways to start the conversations with other parents.
"I understand you are having my son over tonight and some other kids are coming. Are you going to be around? Is there anything I can bring? You know, my husband and I are really concerned about the kids and drinking. How do you feel about that?"
"Hi, you don't know me well, but I thought that I would call to talk about the kids get - together last Saturday night. Do you think anyone might have been drinking?"
"I am concerned that the kids might be drinking and I wondered if you had heard the same thing. How do you and your husband feel about that? We are really concerned."
"I heard you are having a big group of kids over this weekend. Do you need some other parents to help? What kinds of things can we do to make sure the kids aren't sneaking in alcohol?"
"I am really worried about the underage drinking situation here - can we talk?"