Resources for Parents
Setting clear rules and expectations. Research shows that the majority of kids respond best to clear rules — from both their parents and society at large. For example, studies show that underage youth are significantly less likely to drink alcohol when they believe they’ll be caught by police. They’re even less likely to drink alcohol when they believe their parents think it would be very wrong for them to do so. It’s OK to say, “Underage drinking is illegal, and I don’t approve of it. There will be consequences if you engage in underage drinking.”
Examining our own use patterns. Do you ask your kids to grab you a drink from the refrigerator? Do you make lighthearted jokes or comments about other people’s drinking? Do you consider use of alcohol to be a rite of passage that can’t be avoided? Do you assume that alcohol is a necessary part of any celebration or social gathering? Do you model using alcohol as a stress reduction tool? Do you host parties at your house where alcohol is served or available to teens? Does your child observe you drinking more than two or three drinks on any one occasion?
Modeling is one of the most important actions we can engage in as a community to deter underage drinking. Our behaviors affect children’s attitudes about alcohol.
As a parent and community member you may want to spend a few minutes reflecting on your own relationship with alcohol. Consider the many messages your actions send to your children and other children in the community. Take steps to make sure children know you don’t approve of underage drinking and that there will be consequences if they engage in underage drinking. Increased awareness and examination of our own behavior is the first small but powerful step in truly affecting addiction in Maine.
Want to learn more about what you can do to help your teen’s risk? Check out these informative Maine Parents and the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, from the “Your Teen & Alcohol” series:
Visit maineparents.net for additional materials and resources.