Summertime is here, and so is the season when many teens with time on their hands turn to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Rather than throw up your hands and say there’s nothing you can do, take a minute to reflect on just how important and influential parents’ roles are to their children. In fact, you can make a difference.
It all starts with having proactive strategies in place to ensure your teens learn to live by the family’s rules and moral values. And if your teen needs extra help, reach out today to an alcohol addiction treatment center near you. What are some of the most important areas to focus on? Here are some suggestions.
Be Involved in Your Teen’s Life
The best way to be in the know about what your children are doing is to be involved in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean that you have to take time off from work to watch over them like a hawk, but it does mean that you engage in an ongoing conversation about:
- Their likes
- Their friends
- New activities and interests
- What’s bothering them
- Peer pressure
- Struggles with skills or learning ability
- What they want to get out of summer
The more you interact with your teens, the more natural and comfortable this way of communicating will feel.
Naturally, this will require more effort on your part than you may have thought, especially if you are only now beginning to realize that you can’t just leave kids to grow up on their own. In a vacuum, there are all sorts of dangers and risks for teens. Without firm and loving guidance and a moral compass, teens will likely find themselves on the wrong side of decision-making at a critical time.
How to Promote an Alcohol-Free Summer
While this may be easy to recommend, how do you implement a strategy to be involved in your teens’ lives? You could try the following:
- Ask about their plans for the summer.
- Discuss as a family things to do together on the weekend or make plans for a family summer vacation.
- Learn the names and backgrounds of all your teen’s friends.
- Communicate with the parents of your teen’s friends and make sure they know your wishes about not allowing alcohol and drug use.
- Set clear rules, including rules about alcohol and drug use. Enforce the rules you set.
- Know where your children are, what they are doing, whom they are with, and whom they are friends with.
- Research activities together that your teen can participate in.
- Have family meals together.
- Keep a family calendar with important dates and activities clearly listed.
- Check in during the day with your teen using social media, instant message, texting, or a quick phone call.
- Make time for one-on-one talks with your teen about anything that seems to be bothering him or her.
- Create a pledge between yourself and your children that promises they will not drink alcohol and use drugs.
Be a Good Role Model About Alcohol
It goes without saying that parents should show teens good behavior by their own actions. This means that parents have to know that their teenage son or daughter will be watching how they behave when others are around at a party where alcohol is served or at a restaurant when the parents order wine or cocktails and then get in the car and drive.
Beyond not drinking and using drugs, unless the medication is prescribed for you by a doctor and taken only by you for the purposes prescribed, you also need to convey that drinking and drug use does not solve problems. Instead, it creates and exacerbates problems.
The old way of thinking was that parents could help ensure their teens learned about responsible drinking by making sure the teens drank at home under parental supervision. Today, however, research has shown that this is a false and dangerous strategy. It only shows teens that drinking and drug use is permissible, not that it is dangerous. Keep in mind that teens do not have a fully developed brain until they are in their 20s. Their ability to make sound decisions isn’t where it needs to be yet and they can and do engage in crazy and destructive behavior when under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Being a positive role model to teens means that parents:
- Stay away from alcohol in high-risk situations. For example, do not drive a vehicle after drinking.
- Get help if you believe you (the parent) have an alcohol-related problem.
- Do not give alcohol or drugs to your children. Convey in a clear and concise manner that alcohol and drugs in your home are off-limits to them and their friends at all times.
Be Aware of Risk Factors for Teen Drinking
Being a responsible and loving parent also means that you take the time to familiarize yourself with risk factors that may propel your teen toward alcohol and drug use, including:
- Any significant social transition, such as moving from middle school to high school and getting a driver’s license
- Any family history of alcoholism or drug use
- Depression and other serious emotional problems
- A history of social and emotional difficulties
- Any contact with peers involved in troubling or suspicious activities
Work With Schools and the Community for an Alcohol-Free Summer
Consistency of the message that alcohol and drugs are off-limits needs to be communicated. To ensure this happens, parents should work with their children’s schools, with other members of the community, and the local government. Some ways that schools and community organizations can help include:
- Schools and the community support as well as reward young people’s decision not to drink and use drugs.
- Schools and the community identify and intervene early with children involved in underage drinking and drug use.
- Make sure that rules about underage drinking and drug use are in place at home, in school, and in your community.
- Ensure that agreements of acceptable behavior are established, well-known, and consistently applied.
- No alcohol or drugs are permitted at parties and social events at home or elsewhere where children are present.
Reach Out to Promises Behavioral Health for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Bottom line: it just isn’t possible for parents to be with their teens 24/7 to protect them from harm. But parents can and should do the best they can to prepare their teens to be able to handle pressure and temptations to use alcohol and drugs. Above all, be loving parents. Keep the lines of communication open and honest. You and your children are in this together. You also want the best for their future. Give them the solid foundation they need to grow up with self-confidence and to be able to face life’s challenges and stresses and opportunities without turning to alcohol and drugs.
And if your teen’s struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to Promises Behavioral Health at 844.875.5609 to learn more about our treatment programs.