Parents’ words key in preventing underage drinking

Published 9:46 am Friday, October 2, 2015

“Talk, They Hear You” is a new underage drinking prevention national media campaign. I will start off this information with some conversational goals. Research shows that parents are the No. 1 reason young people decide not to drink. So, start talking to your children about alcohol before they start drinking — as early as 9 years old. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, they really do hear you.

No. 1: Show you disapprove of underage drinking. Over 80 percent of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

No. 2: Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being. Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

No. 3: Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol. You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

No. 4: Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks. You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

No. 5: Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking. Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them. Keep it low-key. Don’t worry; you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

Another way to assist a young person with this situation is to make a contract. An example of things to say or write in this contract for both parent and youth is:

As a parent or caregiver I agree to:

• Never provide alcohol to youth or tolerate underage use.

• Be a positive role model for youth.

• Listen to and talk with my teen.

• Know my legal risks related to underage drinking.

• Support strict and consistent enforcement.

• Give clear no use messages about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

• Never drive impaired.

• Pick up my teen at any hour, any place, with the under- standing that we will discuss the situation at a later time.

As a teen I agree to:

• Not use alcohol.

• Talk to my parents and friends about my decision to not use alcohol.

• Encourage and support my friends’ decisions to not use alcohol.

• Speak out against things in my community that encourage youth to drink.

• Be a positive role model for younger kids.

• Learn where people can get help for alcohol problems.

• Refuse to ride with an impaired driver.

• Call a parent or other trusted adult or friend if I need a ride.


For more information concerning this topic, go to , like C.A.S.S. Coalition on Facebook, or email me at or call 269-683-4411.