Teenage drinking: tips for parents
Here are a few tips for parents concerned about their teens and/or their friends' drinking.
• Set rules. Decide on a policy that feels right to you and stick with it. Many experts suggest that zero tolerance is the only way.
“The research shows that when teens are raised with a strict ‘no drinking' policy, they are far less likely to drink — and if they do drink, they drink less,” says Dr Harris Stratyner, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and vice chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
A minority of experts, however, say that parents should not demonise alcohol (forbidden fruit, etc) and suggest that it's OK to let your child have a drink with you occasionally.
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, for instance, found that when children drank with their parents they were less likely to report binge drinking within the previous two weeks. Whatever you decide, make sure your teen understands that there will be consequences if they do not adhere to your rules.
• Know that beer is not safer than, say, gin.
“Mom, it's just a beer!” Nice try kiddo, but the truth is that a 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of vino and 1.5 ounces of the hard stuff all have the exact same amount of alcohol and will have the exact same stupefying effects on your child's body.
• Don't be an enabler. You might be tempted to be the cool parent and supply your children with booze for their next party. Don't do it.
When parents provide alcohol for teen parties, the teens are more likely to binge drink and get into car accidents, according to research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Even if you have the good sense to never be a supplier, keep the liquor locked up when you are not at home.
Your teen might be totally trustworthy, but he or she may have a pal that is not.
• Act fast. If you suspect a problem, talk to your child about his habit. He may not be aware that frequent drinking can become (or has become) an addiction. Explain that his brain is still developing and that he could irreparably damage that vital organ if he drinks excessively.
• For more information, see Lesley Alderman, http://mom.me/parenting/168-7-things-to-know-about-teen-drinking/