By Guest Blogger Trevor McDonald
If you’re human, there’s a good chance you experimented with alcohol in your teenage years. So, you kind of know what to expect from your teen. We all hope our children will rise above peer pressure and curiosity to abstain from alcohol entirely, but that’s not a reality for most. They’re human just like us.
So, your teen came home drunk one night or you walked in on a party with alcohol.
What you do from this moment on is very important. You don’t want to act like it’s no big deal and you probably don’t want to overreact either. Overreacting in this situation can drive a wedge between you and your teen at a sensitive time. If he or she doesn’t respect your authority, dangerous things can happen.
Follow these steps to approaching this delicate situation:
1. Show some empathy
Reacting in anger will put your teen on the defense, and that’s not a productive place to be. In this situation, you want her to understand why her actions are harmful. And while it may be tempting to try to drill it into her head by yelling, we know that never truly works.
Try to remember what it was like to be in her shoes. You probably have done the same or worse. Even if you haven’t, try to understand the reasoning behind her actions. Maybe she was trying to fit in. Maybe she was trying to dull pain or handle social anxiety. There are reasons why everyone drinks, and it’s almost never about the parents.
2. Educate your child
Teenagers are masters at acting like they know everything, but we know better. They don’t know about all the harmful effects of alcohol. They may have heard about alcohol blackouts from a friend, but they probably don’t know what’s happening to their brain when they drink this much. With the right knowledge, they can make wiser decisions.
3. Tighten the reigns
Talking about alcohol is helpful, but your teen has probably broken your trust by drinking. You don’t necessarily have to ground him, but you can keep closer tabs from now on. One good example of tightening the reigns is to stop sleepovers. If you suspect your teen is drinking regularly, he’s probably drinking every time he says he’s at a sleepover.