5 Ways to Deal With Teens and Alcohol Over the Holidays

Yes, we all want to be merry around the holidays. We want to celebrate or forget the past year, hope for the best for the coming year and celebrate the holidays themselves. The last thing we want to bring to the proverbial holiday table is a dish of teen troubles. There is a lot of alcohol around during the holidays. The alcohol is often right near the soda or other drinks at get-togethers... or even near the milk in the fridge.

Yes, often, teens tell me that they get their alcohol at home. I am worried about teens having easier access to alcohol during the holidays and THAT leading to a number of problems including: car accidents, aggression, and bad judgment when making decisions, impulsive and reckless behavior and getting injured and/or overdosing.

So, what's a parent to do?

  1. Monitor the amount of alcohol in your home.
  2. Monitor your own level of alcohol intake. Your kids are watching you.
  3. Let your kids know that if there is even a suggestion that they may be drinking, and especially drinking and driving, that you will take the car keys away.
  4. Check backpacks as they leave your house and as they arrive home. Teens often use the trick of putting alcohol in their water bottles.
  5. Be awake and around to see what kind of condition your kids are in when they arrive home at night. While you are at it, check to see what their breath smells like.

Holidays may be a time for you and your kids to celebrate and be merry, but it is certainly not a time to lower your guard and let the alcohol flow. Watch yourself and your kids. There are all kinds of wonderful ways to have fun without drinking to excess.

Have a happy, safe holiday season!

By Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.

June Message

A Message for High School Seniors, and their Parents:

For seniors, June is senior prom, graduation and the beginning of summer party mode.  Seniors look forward to this time of celebration as they prepare to depart school and look forward to new adventures.  Unfortunately, these happy occasions sometimes involve underage drinking, and result in tragedies.

Did you know:  Alcohol-fueled motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among 18 – 24 year olds.

Below are tips to keep your teens safe this Prom and Graduation season. Don’t take a chance. Make sure they are aware of what they should and shouldn't be doing.

You may say:  Of course they know better.
You are right.  But as parents, we have a responsibility to remind them.

CONSTANTLY , and more importantly, REPEATEDLY in the weeks to come.

  • Talk about drinking before the Prom and Graduation.  Send clear messages that you do not want your teen to drink alcohol.
  • Find out who is driving.  Make sure that everyone understands that under no circumstances should anyone get into a vehicle when the driver has been drinking alcohol – Not even a drop!  Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.  
  • Limit the number of passengers to minimize distractions for the driver.  Keep a list of the names and phone numbers of each teen rider, along with names and addresses of all the parents.
  • Require them to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts.  It’s the law.  (70% of teens killed on prom weekends were not wearing seatbelts (NHTSA).
  • Work with other parents to plan alcohol-free parties before and after Prom and Graduation.
  • Prepare your teen for peer pressure.  Brainstorm with your teen specifically about how he/she would handle a difficult situation such as being offered a ride by an intoxicated driver or being offered alcohol. 
  • Your teen may “roll their eyes” or say “Oh, Mom / Dad, I know, I know”.  Be persistent.  Remember, you can handle your teen’s dismissal of your concerns a lot better than the devastating consequences of an accident.
  • Don’t allow your teen to go to parties in hotel rooms or homes/cabins that do not have chaperones.   You should speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen will attend, since some parents may allow underage drinking, and may not have the same set of morals and values that you do.
  • Encourage your teen to call you if they need a ride! Don’t make it seem like a burden.  Keep the lines of communications open for your teen!

When it comes right down to it, YOU are the adult and the parent, and as your kids get older, you have to assert your authority even more.  No one ever promised it would be.

We love our children and it is our responsibility to protect them, in spite of themselves.

Teens get to thinking they are bulletproof.  We need to CONSTANTLY remind them that they are not.

Message content provided by Zachar Law Blog & FMAC 

Fairfield Municipal Alliance Committee