Talking with your kids about drinking is one of the most difficult conversations for parents to have, but it's an incredibly important one. Research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents about alcohol and drug use are 50 percent less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don't.
There's no one way to go about it. Figure out what works best for you and your family. It may help to lead up to a larger discussion by taking advantage of opportunities to have smaller talks as the subject arises in the news, TV, or movies. Talk about whether it was a good or bad example of how to handle alcohol, see how they reacted to it, and get the facts straight.
Then, let them know that you're open for future conversations. Let them come to you — if they already know that you're comfortable with talking to them about this and are eager to listen, they'll be more likely to see you as a trusted source for questions and answers. Without you as a resource, kids are likely to get their information about alcohol from their friends or pop culture, which is very rarely accurate. Be the one to set the record straight about the facts. Educate yourself to make sure you're giving them correct information.
When everyone's ready to talk, try open-ended questions to get the discussion flowing and gauge how your child is already thinking and feeling about drinking. Be honest with your responses to their questions, and try to stay positive. Remember that the goal is to get them to make their own responsible choices about drinking, and that you want it to be clear that you trust them to do so.
Once you're talking, take a moment to discuss your expectations for how they'll handle themselves around alcohol, and what the consequences could be if they disregard these expectations. These can include consequences that are out of your control like the risks for injury, assault, health problems, legal trouble or even death. But you should also set the ground rules ahead of time if they're caught drinking, and then stick to them if the situation ever should arise.
If you have a child struggling with alcohol abuse and are in need of help, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida. Since founded by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef in 1989, Fairwinds has become renowned as one of the top drug and alcohol treatment centers in the country. With a unique dual diagnosis methodology that utilizes therapeutic counseling and clinical treatment to address the psychological triggers behind addiction, the experts at Fairwinds will work with you and your child to help get them on the path to recovery.