Many teens feel the pressure to conform to peer expectations around alcohol at parties, but parents are feeling pressure too.
Remember the risks and be responsible – even if it makes you unpopular.
Some teenagers think that an alcohol-free party will be boring, placing considerable pressure on parents to supply drinks – but this is risky and dangerous.
It’s important to consider the dangers to developing bodies and brains, as well as the legalities of supplying alcohol to minors.
Laws surrounding underage drinking are getting tougher, so it’s important you are aware of your legal obligations. Most states and territories now have secondary supply laws, and others are considering legislation, meaning it’s illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to an under 18 without the consent of that person’s parent.
Allowing your teenager alcohol at home can worsen the situation. Many parents believe that allowing their kids to drink at home will help demystify alcohol, but research has shown that this is not necessarily correct. Allowing a drink at home can be seen as approval of alcohol, lowering the barriers for teens to drink in other environments.
Tips to manage your teen’s objections to an alcohol-free party:
- Explain yourself. Tell them about the risks involved and your concerns about their physical, psychological and social health, and ensure they understand your legal obligations. They may not agree, but they have to understand why you created the rules that exist in your home.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ if they ask you for alcohol at their party.
- Challenge unfounded statements. For example, if your teen tells you that you are the ‘only Mum who won’t let us drink at a party’, don’t let it go unchallenged. Most parents don’t support providing alcohol for under-age parties. If your teenager insists it’s the truth, ask them for the names and numbers of five parents who provide alcohol. Talk to those parents, and make sure other parents know your views.
- Develop a ‘risk assessment’ plan with your teen. It’s important that they understand the responsibility you’re undertaking by holding a teenage party. Sit down with them and develop a risk assessment plan, which clearly outlines all of the things that could go wrong throughout the night – for both an alcohol-free party and a party with drinks. For every risk that’s identified, have your to develop an appropriate response. Hopefully it’ll become clear that even an alcohol-free party can be risky, so adding alcohol could be trouble.
- Be aware of your legal obligations.
For tips on talking to your teens about delaying their initiation to alcohol, check out our DELAY 5-point plan.
DrinkWise - Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix brochure