When to have the “drinking” conversation with your teen

The other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine who had a weekend ordeal with her teen son. She thought he was out to dinner with friends but he was at a party house in the neighborhood having a few beers and  shots of tequila. He arrived home hours later in his own car but driven by a friend. When he walked in the door, he was drunk and covered in vomit. My friend was most upset that her son didn’t call her to pick him up.

Realistically, parents know that at some point, their child is going to have a drink or two or three.  So, what do you say to your teen about drinking? Don’t do it? If you  get drunk, call me to pick you up? Don’t mix alcohol? Drink in moderation? And, exactly when do you have the conversation?

The statistics say by age 14, about 40 percent of teens have had at least one drink.  Here’s another realistic stat:

A child who reaches age 21 without smoking, abusing alcohol or using drugs is virtually certain never to do so.  – Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

I found a website that has some great drinking facts for teens. You might want to mention this one to your kid:  there is nothing you can do to sober up quickly. Drinking coffee actually can make you think you are alert when you are not.

As strange as it may feel, acknowledging you teen is going to drink and giving him some guidelines seems to be the route to go.  Experts say lack of parental support, monitoring, and communication are what turn a kid from a sampler to a heavy drinker.

I kind of think coming home covered in vomit is a good lesson in moderation. It certainly is a conversation starter. How have you dealt with you teen’s first experience with alcohol?

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