‘If Mum says no, ask Dad’ can be a common refrain among teens pushing the boundaries, and when it comes to alcohol, it’s important to put up a united front as parents. Drinkwise Australia shares some advice on dealing with differences of opinion over teen drinking in your home.
A consistent message from both parents can make a real difference when it comes to teenage alcohol use. If a young person gets mixed messages from his or her parents then it’s far more difficult to develop positive teenage attitudes to alcohol.
Teens and alcohol in the home
Parents must agree on appropriate rules and boundaries for their teenager when it comes to alcohol, as well as the consequences if these are broken. It is important that once the rules and boundaries are in place that neither party ‘gives in’. Sometimes, however, this is made more difficult because parents have a difference of opinion as to whether they should give their teenager alcohol to drink. If there are differences of opinion regarding the provision of alcohol for teenage drinking, discuss them openly without placing the child in the position of conflict.
Broken relationships can make this situation more difficult as parents may be reluctant to enforce rules on their child, fearing that this may make them unpopular. As much as you may want your child to be your ‘best friend’, it is far more important to be a responsible parent. Your child only gets one set of parents but they will have many friends. There are other ways of maintaining a positive relationship with your teenager rather than giving them alcohol.
There are a number of reasons why one set of parents may have different views on the role alcohol should play in their teen’s life. It could have something to do with their cultural background, their involvement in team sports or a family history of alcohol problems, including dependence.
Whatever the reasons, differences can create significant problems for a family. It is important to try and deal with the issue as quickly as possible.
The impact of alcohol on the adolescent brain can be serious. The research is clear; teenagers that drink are more likely to have long-term problems with alcohol. The message is that the introduction to alcohol should be delayed as long as possible.
Practical tips for parents
Get the facts. Before you address your partner on the alcohol issue, ensure you’ve got your facts. Set out your argument about damage to bodies and brains and also the fact that early introduction to alcohol is linked to alcohol problems later in life. Supporting your case with the facts will make it harder for your partner to argue and is more likely to lead to a positive outcome.
Discuss this separately from the children – when the children are in bed or away from the house and choose your time carefully.
Seek professional help. If you can’t reach an agreement then it’s a big enough issue to arrange counselling through your GP or a qualified counsellor. It is important to have a plan and agree on it together. Click here to view the Parents 5 point plan.
This article was originally published by DrinkWise Australia and Kidspot Australia.
Read more on Kidspot:
- Talking to your teen about alcohol
- Overcoming peer pressure to drink alcohol
- Teen party survival guide