Graduation and party season is upon us, so consider the following facts about teens and alcohol:
- Kids who start drinking as teens are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related car crash.
- Car accidents are the number one cause of death in American teens, and many involve underage drinking.
- 1 in 6 teens binge drink; only 1 in 100 parents believe their teen binge drinks.
- Teen alcohol use kills nearly 5,000 children annually — more than all illegal drugs combined.
So ask yourself, which style of parenting about alcohol is most likely to contribute to teen alcohol use, and which style is most protective against teen drinking? Is it a parent who says:
- “You will never drink a drop of alcohol while you are living in my house.” (Autocratic style)
- “Have a glass of wine with me so you learn to drink responsibly.” (Permissive style)
- “I don’t want you to drink until you are 21 because it’s illegal and it is dangerous.” (Constructive style)
- “You are a smart kid. I know you will make a good choice about drinking.” (Uninvolved style)
Kids who drink earlier and heavily are ones whose parents are permissive and gave reply B.
If your child believes you think it’s safe for them to drink, and if they have had alcohol with you at home, they are five times more likely to get drunk under age 21. In addition, these children have been shown to binge drink much more often.
The best way to keep your kids from drinking under age is to answer C (for “constructive”). Tell them it’s not okay with you for them to drink before they are 21, and give them a few reasons:
It increases your risk for car accidents.
You are more likely to use drugs or have sex when you’re drunk.
Tell them what you believe, and stick to it.