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Tips to start the conversation about alcohol with your teen

Tips to start the conversation about alcohol with your teen
Published: Mon 19 Jul 2021

Safety is always the number one priority for our kids, we know as parents it’s our responsibility to educate them about behaviours like alcohol consumption, but it can also be daunting to determine the best way to set boundaries and start the conversation. 

As children grow and head into their tween and teen years, they start to become more influenced by their friends, social media and the internet. As a father and father figure, you still have the strongest influence on their choices. 

To help you maintain a position of influence, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and honest from a young age into their teen years. Doing so lets them know that they can talk to you openly about the bigger issues they face and that you will listen without judgment. By doing this, they are more likely come to you with questions, worries or problems and will help protect from riskier teenage behaviour like alcohol and drug use.

Tips to start the conversation and keep them safe around alcohol 

  1. Have an honest conversation. About your own experiences. Let them know that you understand they will at times feel pressured to try risky things. Being upfront about alcohol and its impacts will help your teen feel comfortable talking about alcohol with you and more likely to listen to your advice.
  2. Challenge the idea that drinking alcohol is a normal part of growing up. As children move into their teen years, they might feel pressured to drink to have fun. Let them know that you can have fun without alcohol. 
  3. Delay giving your child any alcohol. Regularly giving your children tastes or sips of alcohol may send the message that you don’t mind them drinking alcohol. Research also shows that teens who are supplied with alcohol by their parents have a higher risk of binge drinking, alcohol-related harm like injury, violence, or risky sexual behaviour and developing later risky alcohol use.
  4. Be realistic about the harms. It’s important that your child knows the risks associated with alcohol but at the same time, if you exaggerate the risks or use scare tactics, your child may dismiss what you are saying. 
  5. Let your child know the laws. Secondary supply laws make it illegal for adults to supply children under the age of 18 with alcohol in a private setting without their parent or guardian’s consent. These laws support parents to make decisions about when, or if, their child tries alcohol
  6. Be a good role model. Limit your alcohol consumption around your child and teen and celebrate without alcohol. By showing your young person how to drink responsibly and with self-control, they’ll also start to associate these behaviours with alcohol consumption and understand you can have fun without alcohol.
Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr. Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support, and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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