There are a lot of social gatherings during the winter holidays – and you’ll almost invariably find alcohol around. Even if you try to maintain a “dry” household yourself, there’s no guarantee that the spirits won’t be freely flowing when you visit friends or relatives.
Mostly, that shouldn’t be a problem for the adults. However, teens can quickly get into trouble if they decide to do some experimental drinking when nobody’s watching.
How do you put the brakes on teen alcohol use?
Generally speaking, any effective strategy is going to require some open communication. Not talking about the issue is almost guaranteed to backfire. With that in mind:
- Have a frank discussion with your teen about alcohol use. Make your expectations clear and tell them you’ll be deeply disappointed if they ignore you. Your teen should probably also know that if they’re caught with alcohol, they can end up in legal trouble – and minor in possession charges are no joke.
- Don’t be a permissive parent. You may not honestly believe there’s any harm in letting your teen have a single glass of wine with dinner during a holiday celebration. However, any permissiveness on your part regarding alcohol could send your teen mixed signals.
- Keep an eye on your teen at gatherings. When you attend a holiday event, take note of where the alcohol is kept and steer your teen in another direction.
- Recognize that your teen may still drink when you’re not around. Even good kids sometimes just want to know what they’re missing and will do something they shouldn’t.
- Have a consequence-free bailout plan. Let your teen know that if they do end up drinking somewhere with their friends that you would rather they call you for a ride than take any chances. Promise that you’ll pick them up without any lectures or punishment.
If your teen does make a mistake with alcohol, hopefully it’ll be nothing more than a learning experience. If criminal charges are involved, however, make sure that you have experienced legal guidance from the very start.