One of the greatest challenges that parents can face is setting boundaries and establishing rules for their teenage children around drinking alcohol.
What messages is your child picking up from your drinking behaviour?
Alcohol plays a different role in every Australian family – from the way parents choose to drink or not drink, to the different rules and boundaries set in place for teenage drinking. Although these differences may seem confusing or confrontational, they can be used to your advantage by discussing differences in attitudes with your teen. This makes for an influential and informed discussion – much better than a dry lecture about the rights and wrongs of alcohol.
What’s important to remember is that your teens will watch how you behave, how much you drink and your attitude to alcohol. They will also observe the boundaries you set in place for yourself – ensuring one parent is designated driver for the evening, never drinking on an empty stomach etc.
- It is a good idea to have this conversation as parents first to ensure you develop a common parenting approach to teen drinking.
- Communicate your concerns about drinking at a young age. Discuss the risks involved and the impact on their physical, psychological and social health so they understand why you have created the rules that exist in your home.
- Involve your teenager in the development of the rules. Set realistic and appropriate consequences and discuss them with your teen. Renegotiate rules as they become dated.
- Reward good behaviour.
- Inform other parents if you do not want your child to drink alcohol at parties. Make sure they understand your position. If they ask you, tell them the reason for your decision but respect that the rules and boundaries they choose to set for their children are not your business unless they directly affect your child.
- Don’t be afraid to let your feelings known if another parent breaks the rules you’ve set for your child. They can be prosecuted as it’s against the law in some states to provide alcohol to your child without your consent.
- Create a united voice with the parents of other teens. Open communication with other concerned parents could make a big difference to the influence you have on your teens – if a group of you agree on a set of rules it’s going to carry more weight.
- But if others don’t agree, don’t be afraid to go it alone. The main thing is that your motivation is to keep them safe and healthy. They will be more accepting if they understand your reasoning.