Ways to Discuss Underage Drinking With Your Teen

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking Program.
I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #ABFamilyTalk


One of my biggest fears as a parent has always been my kids finding fun in underage drinking and partying with friends. It’s been a fear of mine because alcohol is one of the reasons my first marriage ended with their father (my 3 older kids). Another fear of mine concerning underage drinking is drinking and driving. Back in 2007, our community was ripped apart when about 30 teens were drinking at a party and a car full of teens got killed after they left the party. It was horrifying. Horrible. So incredibly sad. Mike and I had been working with the school district for about 7 years by then and knew friends or siblings of these 5 teens who died in the crash. Now-a-days, my three older kids who are teens, are shown the details of this horrible crash during an assembly about underage drinking and drinking and driving. This is a horribly graphic assembly that shows the scene of the crime in detail. I am sitting here writing this, holding back the tears. I hope my kids never, ever drink, at least until they are over the legal age to.

Ways to Discuss Underage Drinking With Your Teen #ABFamilyTalk


The Family Talk About Drinking Program

Now that we are upon prom and high school graduation season, we need to connect with our teens. Find the right time and have a meaningful conversation about under age drinking. Don’t wait!

The Family Talk About Drinking Program from Anheuser-Busch has guided parents for more than 20 years by providing them with tips on keeping an open dialog about alcohol with kids.  At FamilyTalkAboutDrinking.com you will see that there are three main stages of parenting: Being a Teacher (for children ages 1-7), The Facilitator (for children ages 8-13) and the Coach (ages 14-21 and older). Of course, in this case, we are speaking of the ‘coaching’ age group. We are in fact, coaching them. Coaching them to make good decisions about underage drinking. Here are some tips from FTAD:

  • Find Windows of Opportunity to Talk. As parents, we have many opportunities to discuss underage drinking with our teens. Use everyday life. We have prom and graduations going on right now which means after prom parties and graduation parties. You can also discuss underage drinking at family parties… it’s a perfect window of opportunity, don’t let it pass!
  • Connect with Your Teen. When talking about drinkign with your teen, be sure to do more listening rather than talking. They hate lectures and will shut you off. Respect their opinions. They won’t always agree with you and that is okay. They will feel more comfortable  and they will open up more if you are judging less and showing  them more respect when they don’t agree with you.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions. Give them scenarios involving alcohol and let them figure out the answer. Let them think through the situation and figure out what they think they would do. This is a fantastic way to get them really thinking about consequences.
  • Encourage Accountability. Growing up, my dad had a rule. Call. Simple as that. Let him know where I was and who I was with. And if I ever got into a situation where I needed a ride or my friends needed a ride due to underage drinking – call. Naturally, he frowned upon underage drinking, but he didn’t want me or any of my friend drinking and driving. He told me to always call. He’d ask no questions. But in the morning, we would discuss what went on and most likely there would be some sort of consequences. Luckily, I never got into that situation. I want my kids to know they can call me for help. But they do need to be held accountable. If they’ve made a poor choice and taken part of underage drinking – I certainly do not want them making another poor choice and getting in a car too.


Parents Have the Greatest Influence on Teens

Parents are up against our teens’ friends… and my first thought is, ‘how in the world do I compete with them?!? They are certainly more influential than I am.” – but this isn’t true. According to research from the GfK Roper Youth Report, parents are the greatest influence on teens’ decisions about drinking. This year’s report shows that there has been a 24% increase in parents’ influence since 1991. I am SO glad to hear that.


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