In this lesson we are going to explore teenage drinking, alcohol abuse, and what you as a parent can do to best prepare yourself and your child. What you will learn is:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
think back to when your parents talked to you about drinking. How did they approach you? Did they use fear and judgment? Or did they have a healthy and balanced approach? How did that talk make you feel? Did you feel empowered afterwards? Or were you confused? Did you have to figure things out on your own because they didn’t talk to you? Spend a couple of minutes thinking about those talks and write down any emotions that come up for you. Then ask yourself, “What do I want to impart to my child when it comes to drinking alcohol?”
At some point or another, your teenager will probably be drinking alcohol so you need to get over it regardless of their age. These days, it’s pretty easy for any kid to get hold of alcohol. Don’t make a big deal so that they don’t begin obsessing over it. Kids obsess over drinking at an early age because they feel like they’re rebelling and being cool. If you don’t make a huge deal of it (this doesn’t mean you condone or allow it) and just let them know you’re there to support them, it will neutralize the affect of the rebellious aspect by taking the fuel out of the fire of them to wanting to do it. Nonetheless, they will still want to do it ASAP because they see everyone else doing it.
Even if your child is highly academic and not interested in being cool or partying, they will be faced with the party stage of their life. This happens from the ages of 14 to 32 and its just part of our culture now. And of course the main focus of partying is drinking.
Make sure to read the lesson on Teen Partying
Almost all teenagers will drink at some point because it’s a right of passage to becoming an adult. It’s a sign that they are “cool”. All teenagers are in a rush to become adults because they don’t appreciate the process of life yet. The real issue is will they drink to the degree where they can no longer make good choices? You see, the real problem with alcohol is when parents avoid the situation or approach it from a “just don’t do it” mentality. If they don’t have a good relationship with their teenager about alcohol, then when the child does drink, they have no idea what to do, how much to drink, or what to expect. THAT is what causes the real problems.
In any sensitive situation you enter into such as alcohol, make sure you educate your teenager and that the conversation is neutral, fair, and balanced. Do not come from a fear-based perspective otherwise you will lose their attention. I cannot emphasize this enough because this is where most “talks” go wrong. If you talk to them about why people drink and point out the pros and cons, then you remove the taboo flavor and it takes away their desire to use it as a form of rebellion. This is not about condoning the act; it’s about being honest and fair. Remember, they’re at an age where they can do anything they want, with or without your consent.
An example talk could go like this:
“Well, you’re reaching that age now where alcohol is going to be all around you and I know you want to party. Of course it’s illegal to drink before the age of 21 so if you get caught drinking, you will need to deal with those consequences. That being said, while I do not prefer you drinking at an early age, I do know the reality that you may decide to. In moderation, alcohol can be fun. If you go overboard it can make you sick. Try to ensure that you never drink because you’re feeling down and depressed because this can develop into addiction and abuse. People who become alcoholics are those who use it to suppress their emotions and try to escape from their problems. Like I said, I prefer that you not drink until you get older but if you do here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Drink 8 ounces of water with every 8 ounces of alcohol. Dehydration is the reason why people get sick so you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
2. Drink slowly. If you are going to drink, start off slow because alcohol creeps up on you. Many people think that because they are not buzzed or drunk right away that they have not had enough to drink where in reality it just takes some time for some alcohol to enter your system and get you buzzed.
3. If you get into trouble with the law you will need to suffer those consequences.
4. Take an EmergenC with your water. Because alcohol depletes your body of nutrients, this will help replenish them.
5. Never drink on an empty stomach. If you don’t have anything in your stomach there is nothing to absorb the alcohol and you can get very sick.
6. Never drink and drive. Imagine how terrible you would feel if you got in the car drunk and hit or killed someone. Think about that for a moment. It would ruin your life and is it worth it? Please never get in a car drunk.
7. Never drive with someone who is drunk. Too many people think they can drive while they’re drunk and while some can once they’re older (even though it is still illegal), kids cannot. Once again, think about your life. You could die, someone else could die, you could spend time in jail, and so on. It’s not worth it.
8. If you begin to act out of control stop drinking. You might notice some people act like idiots or asses when they’re drunk. This means they don’t know how to handle their alcohol. You need to learn when enough is enough so you do not act like an ass. No one likes the crazy person at a party.
9. If you are stuck somewhere and cannot drive please call me. Just know that no matter what I will not be angry with you and that you can call me if you need my help. Again, I am not condoning you drinking and really hope you will wait, but if you do decide to, please know you can call me for anything. I will be right there and I won’t give you any guilt trip.
10. Never drink to be cool. If you’re going to drink do it because you want to, not because other people are doing it. Being cool is about being your own person and not following other people like sheep.
11. Balance and moderation are the keys to life. If you decide to drink, just remember that moderation is what will allow you to drink and have a good time. Once you go overboard, then you’ve lost your power. If you truly want to become a successful adult, do everything in balance and moderation.
I love you very much and trust that no matter what happens, you will make the best decision for you.”
Not necessarily. But they will have heard you. Sometimes they will remember and other times they won’t. Once again, this is about minimizing the damage, not removing it entirely. Remember when I discussed the probability factor (this is a lesson in the foundation course so make sure you take the time to go through this)? When you remain neutral and don’t come from a fear-based mentality, your child can hear what you say and draw on it at a later time. Because you’re open and honest with them and accept the fact that they could drink, they likely won’t drink to rebel, which is why most teens do. If they do decide to drink and you have a good relationship with them, they will take into account all of the things you’ve said and will drink more responsibly. This does not mean they will be perfect and make no mistakes. But it does lower the probability factor and that is the best you can do.
The reason that so many people get into trouble with alcohol (regardless of age) is their state of being. Alcohol is neutral. Some people can handle it and others can’t. You need to focus more of your energy on why they’re drinking as opposed to whether they’re drinking. Are they insecure, lost, or confused? Are they angry, hurt, sad, or depressed? Are they trying to overcompensate for something or doing it to show off or get attention? Those are the real culprits in the challenges that someone faces when they drink.
If someone is just drinking to have a good time and is already a person in a good mood, then for the most part, they should be fine. Once you educate your teenager on the health stuff such as dehydration and drinking water, EmergenC, not drinking on an empty stomach, etc., then you have truly done the best you can. Remember that alcohol is the trigger, not the root cause. In fact, no drug or outside substance is ever the core issue. They’re always just the trigger mechanism of that person’s state of being.
As always, they will be taking their cue from you when it comes to alcohol. Are you drinking beer or wine on a daily basis? Do you become out of control with alcohol? Or are you on the opposite side of the spectrum where you are in fear and are completely against alcohol? Either way, the best way you can lead by example is to teach them balance and moderation. You want them to sense from you that you have a solid grasp of the subject and are not reactive toward alcohol. By making it neutral and just letting it be, you remove any stigma from it and your teenager can then begin their own process of finding their balance with it. Since alcohol is everywhere and a huge portion of our societal structure, it’s very important that you set this tone ASAP.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados