This post is sponsored by AskListenLearn.com
I spent the first year of each of my children’s lives carefully teaching them how to speak, only to regret it for a few years after. If you’d looked up the word loquacious, you’d find pictures of my toddlers.
The good news is they eventually grew up enough to only communicate with grunts, eyerolls, and emojis. I love those little :rainbow: :unicorn::devil horns:
“Please, pass me the salt?” I semaphore to my youngest during dinner, careful to avoid startling her with eye contact. “ZOMG, YOLO,” she sighs, passing the, like, salt or whatever.
My kids will laugh when they read this, because they aren’t really like this at all. While we aren’t sitting around the woodstove at night sharing our innermost hopes and dreams, we do have the occasional deep and heart-to-heart conversations.
I really like my kids. I like hearing about what’s important to them (for the most part—I can’t get into manga.) I want to know their opinions on things, and I’m impressed by the complex thoughts, especially since it seems like I was just reading them Sandra Boynton books.
Though they are all taller than me now, I am still parenting them. They do need and want to know what I think, especially when it comes to underage drinking. Now that being offered alcohol is closer to being a reality than a hypothetical, I want them to be prepared with all the facts they need.
While they love me and still listen to me, I can’t preach at them. Fourteen is different from seven. They have their own lives and opinions. A parent has to respect that from teens, otherwise you can talk and talk, but they won’t hear you.
Make the most out of the dwindling opportunities for teachable moments you have as a parent of teens when you talk about underage alcohol consumption.
Have facts, and keep it simple. They want to know why they shouldn’t drink. Have a good and simple answer for them. AskListenLearn.org has some helpful resources for that.
Use current events. Graduation season always brings a few stories of underage drinking stories on the news. Right now a celebrity’s teen is in the news for serving alcohol to younger teens. Use news items like this to start a conversation with your kid.
Let them tell you things you don’t want to hear. Let them to talk about any experimenting with alcohol they’ve seen from peers or done themselves. Don’t overreact if they tell you something you don’t want to hear. Be a safe place for them to come with questions and problems, but also don’t ignore information that might be a warning sign.
Take advantage of casual moments. I like talking in the car the best. My kids seem most at ease since that don’t have to look me in the eye. I like it because they can’t escape me.
Be their role model. Think about any mixed messages you may be sending your own kids through your words and actions. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable for me to have a glass of wine after dinner. Still, I’m careful to not joke about drinking to excess. I don’t think it’s really very funny, and I don’t want my kids to think it is either. That’s a parenting choice that’s important for me.
I’m lucky that my teens are good kids. I chalk that mostly up to luck and the fact that I freaking paid my dues when they were four and watching Barney and The Wiggles on an eternal VHS loop. I hope that talking early and often, and tacking advantage of teachable moments will prepare them to continue to navigate the waters of young adulthood.