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Approaching Teens about Drinking and Drugs

Peers can have a negative influence and run interference to parental guidance. Adolescents are surrounded by their peers and are at a crucial age where what their peers think and the perception others have of them is so vitally important to them. This perception of what their peers have of them may even be more important at times to them than what their own parents may think or wish for them. So what is the best way to approach the subject of drinking and drugs with your teenager?

First, itís all going to vary by parent and child. Everyone has different beliefs and values, as well as temperaments. But no matter how different, the earlier you stress your values and concerns about drinking and drugs to your teen the larger influence youíll have on them.

Itís also better to approach them at a time when you and your teen are spending positive time together. You donít want your approach of the topic to come off as an attack because theyíre just going to get defensive and possibly spiteful, doing the complete opposite of what you want. Again, donít put it off because youíre uncomfortable talking about it with your child. Discuss it early and often.

Acknowledge that if they do make unwise decisions it is okay for them to turn to you for help rather than running the other way in fear. It can give you comfort knowing that if your son or daughter does decide to drink at that party youíre unsure about sending them to, youíre at least confident that theyíll call you for a ride rather than drive themselves because of the previous conversations youíve had.

Be sure to also model what you want them to do. If youíre stressing the importance of making wise decisions when it comes to drinking and driving, donít have a few drinks and then drive home. Even though it may only be a few and possibly legally safe, it still sets the precedence that sometimes itís okay.

Approach your concerns about drinking and drugs early and often. Along with building a good, trusting relationship with your teenager, this will help them know the value of wise decisions when it comes to drinking and drugs.

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