Of course you will have the ‘talk’ with you teens about drinking, but they will all be faced with the temptation sooner or later. Statistics tell us that most teens will succumb to the peer pressure and have a drink or two or three. In addition to discussing drinking with your students and the consequences of alcohol, it’s important to prepare them for what they should do if they or their friends are drunk.
Drinking and Driving
One of the greatest dangers for teens is that they will either drive when drunk or get into a car with a drunk driver. Maggie van Zyl has an innovative way of dealing with these situations: “I’ve told all three my teens that they can call me any time of the day or night to fetch them and their friends if they are drunk and can’t get a lift home. This comes with a ‘no questions/no punishment’ clause. They have all taken advantage of it at some time or another, but not as much as you would think. As a parent, it’s so tough to let this slide without a comment, but I really would rather have them home safe and sound than feel like they should take the risk of driving drunk to stay out of trouble.”
Role-play situations in which teens may find themselves so that you can discuss what they should do in these situations. When teen Chantelle found herself at a party where everyone was drinking, she followed her dad’s advice; “My dad always told me to have a drink in my hand. He was right that my friends would never suspect that it had been the same drink the whole night. I opened a beer when I got to the party and, since I’m not crazy about beer, I managed to make it last the whole night. None of my friends realized, but I didn’t have to explain myself either.”
As a parent, you should also be aware of the potential for drinking. Scope out situations in which you think drinking might take place and then ask your teen to call you regularly though the night to gauge their sobriety. You can also have a ‘safe’ word which your teen can drop in a conversation so you know its time to pick them up. Its ok to be the ‘bad guy’ with their friends if they can save face. Saying that their mom is coming to pick them up is a lot easier than explaining that they don’t want to be a part of the party.
The teen years are tough for you and your students. The best way to avoid a potential problem with drinking is to talk about the subject. Help your teen to pre-empt situations so that they will know how to deal with them. Make sure that your teen feel safe talking to you and that they know that when they make a mistake, you will be there to help. Put safety above everything else.