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This is a sponsored blog post and I was compensated by Anheuser-Busch to be part of the Family Talk About Drinking Program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
We are on the cusp of a new stage of life.
Our oldest is a senior in high school with more college classes on the horizon and our middle daughter is going into her second year of high school. Long gone are the days of simple talks with these two where I am parenting kids. Now I am raising adults. I feel a definite shift happened over the past couple of years.
It is hard to believe that they were once this little. This was 6 years ago right before their daddy-daughter dance. Now it is all about prom, which means we are having more meaningful conversations, especially about underage drinking.
We have always shared our family values with the girls and our expectations when it comes to underage drinking, but even now, after all these years, I find myself trying to find the right words or conversation starters to help keep the conversation going with them. I know that it is more important than ever to talk about this and a really good resource Pete and I have been using to help us is the Family Talk About Drinking website.
Family Talk About Drinking, in partnership with parent coach MJ Corcoran, provides support, tools, and insights for parents aiming to develop stronger relationships with their children and prevent underage drinking. This mission is especially important around prom and graduation season, when teens may encounter more opportunities and peer pressure to drink underage.
Parents can help their teens prepare for prom and graduation season by building and reinforcing the trust they have with their teens, establishing expectations beforehand, and most importantly, maintaining open lines of communication about their teens’ plans.
The website uses “Stages of Parenting” to help parents create the right age-specific atmosphere so they can have meaningful conversations about underage drinking with their kids. Springtime is a particularly busy but important time for parents of older teenagers to have these conversations ahead of prom and graduation season. I have been using stage three advice (also known as the “coach” phase) because it is geared towards 14 to 21-year-olds, which is where Ashley and Maddie are right now at 14 and 17 respectfully.
I learned from the advice and tips on the website that parents really are the number one influence on their kids’ decisions about underage drinking, so it’s important for us parents to build relationships ingrained in trust with our teens to help them make responsible choices.
I especially thought that the three communications strategies for prom and graduation were exactly what I and a lot of other parents really need this time of year. They are face-to-face communications, the power of place and communication variety.
I love how they encourage you to communicate with your teen in the way that reaches your teen the best. Like face-to-face conversations, Facebook messages, and even Snaps can be part of these communication strategies. Since every parent-teen relationship is different, there is no right or wrong way to talk with our teens.
I sat down with my teens (and I shared our talk on our Instagram story) and used a mix of these communication strategies and tips to talk about prom and graduation and how it relates to underage drinking.
Depending on your teens’ communication preferences, make time to have a conversation face-to-face about their prom and graduation plans. When talking with your teens, be honest about your feelings and match their stance – sit if they’re sitting, stand if they’re standing. Recognition that they’re listening is important, but eye contact can actually be intimidating to teens and make them feel frustrated. This can be a difficult topic for both parents and teens, so be approachable and encourage a two-way conversation where your teens are free to share their thoughts and concerns. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to foster conversation and build trust.
The power of place.
You may be surprised that some of best and most realistic opportunities for serious conversations with your teens are found in seemingly unconventional circumstances. Places that create one-on-one time and have minimal distraction, like on a long car ride or a hike, are great examples. Approach the conversation with a plan, and make sure you and your spouse or partner are united and consistent in your messaging. Start on a light note and invite your teens to talk about the details for upcoming events like prom and graduation, and slowly move toward more serious topics like underage drinking prevention.
Do your teens spend more time in front of a screen than anything else? Rest assured – there’s nothing wrong with having serious conversations with your teens using their preferred mediums, like through text, messaging apps or social media. Connect with your teens in the ways that are most natural and comfortable for them, which will help build your connection and ensure they understand your expectations about underage drinking prevention.
It was really refreshing to have these actionable tips that I could use right away to talk to my girls more. We came up with a plan for how they would react in different situations involving alcohol, and I reinforced that I trusted them and that I would be there for them to help them in difficult situations. I think that it really helped that I made sure that they were being heard and that they were able to put into words what they would say and do in situations that involved underage drinking.
For more information on how to build trust and start conversations about underage drinking prevention with your teens, visit the Family Talk About Drinking website and their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
Are you talking to your teens about preventing underage drinking?