Discouraging Underage Drinking: A Guide for Working Parents

Working parents, especially moms, have one big concern when it comes to their adolescent kids. It’s the possibility of their teen engaging in underage drinking. Their absence may encourage their child to try alcohol because they’re not as heavily monitored as the teens whose parents don’t work.

However, working parents shouldn’t blame their jobs for their inability to monitor their children as much as they would like to. The truth is, any teen who wants to try unsafe practices will find a way to do so, whether their parents are working or not. Hence, the issue of underage drinking isn’t necessarily connected to parents having full-time jobs. In fact, research suggests that maternal employment, in particular, has little impact on children’s behavior.

A parents’ job may only become a hindrance to good behavior if the parent is constantly absent. Teens may not show it, but their parents’ presence matters a lot to them. If their parents barely try to become a part of their lives, teens will attempt to get their attention through a variety of ways, including drinking.

Without their parents’ intervention, a teen’s casual drinking habit may turn into full-blown alcohol dependence. At that rate, it’s only a matter of time before they become an alcoholic. Their parents’ only choice by then is to put them in a facility for alcoholism recovery or rehabilitation.

That said, here’s how working parents can prevent underage drinking in their teens:

  1. Avoid Giving Them a Lecture

Some parents think turning mealtime conversations into lectures teaches their kids effectively. But on the contrary, it irks teens, thus making them unwilling to grasp the lesson you’re teaching. Plus, if mealtime conversations are your only time to bond as a family, holding a lecture wastes precious time.

Make your lessons a conversation instead. It gives less room for criticisms, disapproval, and judgment. Find a common interest to talk about, like sports or a specific subject in school. Then bring up drinking and ask them what they feel about it. Do their friends drink? Do any of their friends ask them to drink? Use these questions without being judgemental. Let your teen open up to you, and they will feel heard and understood instead of put on the hot seat.

If they say something you don’t like, withhold blame and criticism. You can express your disagreement without being condescending. Express your points calmly. Make it a healthy discussion that would strengthen your trust with one another.

  1. Discuss the Consequences of Drinking

A teen shouldn’t avoid alcohol simply because they’re afraid of what you would do. Instead, they should be discouraged by the bigger consequences, such as getting arrested or blacking out. The cops can apprehend underage drinkers, especially if their intoxication has made them commit other crimes like driving under the influence or assaulting someone.

In addition, being drunk lowers one’s inhibitions. This is why drunk people can throw up everywhere or wet themselves without shame. But once their drunkenness has worn off, they would remember what they did and deal with the embarrassment of it. Worse, someone might’ve taken photos or videos of them. This can affect their self-esteem and enjoyment at school.

  1. Talk About the Health Effects of Drinking

The health effects of drinking are just as bad as its psychological effects. Drinking can cause unhealthy weight gain, bad breath, and bad skin. It may also cause alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. In addition, drunk teens are more likely to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse. And of course, that can lead to teenage pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  1. Recognize the Signs of Alcohol Abuse

If you suspect that your teen is already drinking, observe their behaviors. An alcohol-dependent teen may have lower academic performance, poorer concentration, and an unwillingness to fulfill responsibilities. Their memory may also get foggy, and their friendships problematic.

Teens who undergo rehab go through the same treatment adult alcoholics do. They can be put in group therapy or a private one. However, their therapist may customize their treatment plan based on their age and life experiences. A teen isn’t likely to have lost a job yet, for example, so their rehab isn’t going to be geared toward getting back to work.

If you have to put your teen in rehab, you may feel guilty and blame yourself for their alcoholism. While parents indeed have a responsibility in cases like this, what’s more important is how you’d make it right. You have the choice to help them; it won’t cost you your career. Don’t worsen the situation by judging them or denying the role you played in their alcoholism.

By Matthew M. Gable

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