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.
Wise words, Anne. I agree that being a safe place is very important although I also think sometimes it’s hard not to overreact. I still need to work on that. Recently, I just read on our community FB page that there are some kids in a local high school who bring alcohol to school (disguised as a slushy). It’s scary and it’s definitely something no parent wants to hear but knowledge is power. I still believe in that. If we never choose to see that there’s a problem, how can we intelligently deal with them? Thanks again for this post!
I think our kids expect us to freak out–it’s scary for us because they transition so fast from little kid to teens who face complex social issues at school. Staying calm always works better for me. At least, looking calm. 😉
casual moments are the best – you can sneak in a lot of wise words when you’re driving or walking 🙂
It’s harder for them to escape!
Estelle S. Erasmus (@EstelleSErasmus) says
So smart Anne. My daughter is years away from all that, but I’m taking careful notes.
Start now, in just those in-between moments. Ask what she thinks about things. The more talking she does, the better.
The daughter of one of my dear girlfriends was killed the night she graduated from high school. Her boyfriend had been drinking. That was 10 years ago. You can’t imagine how that one act changed the course of so many lives. xoxox, Brenda
Stories like that are why I’m happy to be part of this campaign. I hope giving parents tools they can use to talk about underage drinking with their own kids will prevent future tragedies. I’m so sorry for your loss!