The issue of teen drinking continues to be a source of pain and broken trust for many parents. I’ve seen a growing number of parents respond to the issue by making the home a “safe haven” for drinking alcohol. The rationale is, “teens are going to drink alcohol. I don’t won’t them to get hurt of hurt someone else on the road. I would rather them drink in my home where at least I can control it.”
A new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs would disagree with that “logic.” The study showed that teens from families with supervision drinking may have higher drinking rates and more future alcohol-related problems than teens from a family whose parents took a “zero tolerance” approach. Researchers also found that the younger students were when they first started drinking, the more likely they were to continue drinking.
Contrary to the parent’s intention, teens in homes where alcohol was supervised did not seem to learn safety or responsibility in drinking. Instead the parents actions were taken by the teens as encouragement to drink alcohol.
How to Address Alcohol with Your Teen:
1. Calmly and Clearly Define the Boundaries for Your Home. Leave no ambiguity when it comes to trust, expectations, and consequences. There should be questions in your teen’s mind as to what you desire of them.
2. Set the Bar High. Help them understand future consequences of present choices. It’s not enough to simply “live in the moment.” Setting the bar also has to do with making sure your teen knows who they belong to–both their earthly name and heavenly title come with responsibility.
3. Use Scripture as Your Standard. The two issues are self-control and authority. The real issue isn’t can you drink alcohol. The law has already determined that it is prohibited by the law. Jesus is clear that we are to submit to our authority. To give in to peer pressure or to fit in show cracks in your ability to exhibit self-control.
4. Be Honest about Your Own Struggles as a Teen. Peer pressure and personal failure are a part of every teenager’s experience. Your kid doesn’t need to know the details of every time that you blew it but it sharing your own failures, age appropriately, can show them that you understand.
5. You Have Their Best Interest at Heart. Make sure they understand that if they ever make a mistake, you want to be the person they call or confide in. This is where your own self-discipline will come into play. In the moment of failure your teens doesn’t need your words of disappointment; they need your acceptance. You can deal with the disappointment in the morning when cooler heads and hearts can prevail.