12/27/08

Teen Drinking - Tips for Parents

. 12/27/08

Has your teen come home smelling of alcohol or drunk? Has your teen shown signs of drinking and you don’t know how to approach the subject? Have you wondered if your teen has been tempted by their friends to drink, and what their response will be? Do you wonder if "spending the night at a friend’s house" really means "drinking all night", indicated by their hung---over look in the morning?
Unfortunately I can answer "Yes" to all of the above. As a father of three teenage boys, I can honestly say I have witnessed all of the above and avoided discussing alcohol with them. I don’t encourage drinking nor do I set a bad example by abusing it in front of them; I’ve just found it easy to avoid the subject. I’m writing this article because I found something that has worked really, really well for my family, and it may save you a lot of heartache.

Not discussing drinking with my 17 year old worked OK until I found a flask half full of whiskey in his car. Suddenly reality smacked me in the face and I was in a panic. Do I yell and scream and put him on restriction for a month? Should I talk it over rationally with him and try to reach an agreement of some kind? What if he denies it was his, and claims he never touches the stuff? Then I will have to deal with lying on top of the drinking.

Where does one go for help in a situation like this? My wife and I discussed possible tactics -- she was all for the heavy handed approach (restriction and economic sanctions), while I preferred to fix the problem while avoiding confrontation (not the best choice, I admit I’m a whimp).

There was a lot at stake, as we also had 15 and 13 year--old boys who would be watching this activity and taking more mental notes than they ever did in any classroom.

I wanted to find an approach that was a compromise between me and my wife’s choices. One possibility was to hire a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor, but I realized the effort may not be successful. Besides, what teenager would agree to it?

I decided to "surf" for some suggestions. After all, the web is the "information superhighway" and I needed some information quick to help keep my kids from getting in serious trouble on the highways. I really didn’t know what I was looking for in particular; maybe some other parents had suffered similar experiences and shared their solutions on the web, or maybe I could find a trusted source of information that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Just because we get married and have kids doesn’t mean we are instant experts at handling every situation that comes along -- wouldn’t it be great if parents had some kind of "instruction manual" to refer to from time to time?

After much research, I decided to purchase an ebook, written by a Probation Officer and Family Therapist, specializing in helping families develop the skills needed to avoid involving their children in the juvenile justice system. Not only did I decide to purchase this ebook because the wealth of experience the author has to offer, but because of the author's step--by--step advice on: how to approach the subject of drinking with your teen, how to set up house rules (and appropriate consequences), how to appropriately and effectively use law enforcement, and even exactly what to do (and what not to do) when they come home drunk (which is really, really good to be prepared for). Here’s an excerpt from the ebook, responding to a parent whose daughter had come home drunk:

Should your daughter come home under the influence, make sure she is in no immediate danger due to her alcohol use, but wait until she is sober to address the problem. When she sobers up, say/do the following: Say (with your best poker face), "I noticed you came home intoxicated last night. I felt shocked and worried." Next, Listen. Give your daughter a chance to speak (although all you're going to hear is a line of bull). She will be angry with you for confronting her…

The author continues with advice on how to handle the ensuing confrontation, including the legal ramifications of underage drinking. His instructions on what to say to end on a positive note are critical to success.

I know what you’re thinking, "Yeah, right. My kid would probably run away from home, or things would get worse." Guess which section follows? That’s right, steps to take when things do get worse, and what to do if your teen follows through with the threat to run away. This ebook has all the bases covered.

The unexpected bonus -- advice on how to handle many other "areas of teen/parent conflict" such as ADHD, anger management, bullying, supermom syndrome, poor academic performance, lying, smoking and even how to monitor your child’s time spent on--line.

Purchasing this ebook has made a huge difference in the way we approach teen drinking with our boys. Rather than groping around in the dark for our own solutions, we now have expert guidance on our side. I can say we have a whole new level of understanding with all three of our boys, and I am quite sure we are now much more prepared for the "parental challenges" we will be confronted with in the future. Like the advertising slogan: "One ebook: $29. Increased communication and a happier life with your teen: priceless."

If you’re still not sure whether you should fork over $29 for this expert help, think about the last time you put your child on restriction – remember the evil stares, yelling, animosity and general tense atmosphere in the house? Now picture addressing the problem in a way that changed the behavior without all the yelling and hurt feelings on both sides – this ebook will give you the tools to accomplish just that.

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