You have to talk.
You’ve gotten up with them in the night, kissed their boo-boos when they fell and loved them unconditionally. Now they’re growing up. You’re still trying to teach them right from wrong, feeling your way along and trying to protect them from potential bad choices.
Their friends have more and more influence in their lives. Exposing them to new ideas, pulling them towards independence and possibly encouraging choices that can have negative consequences.
“Try one,” “it’s no big deal,” “everybody does it.”
But you still matter. And you CAN make a difference in your child’s decision not to drink. You just have to talk early. And talk often.
What do you tell them?
If they ask what to do when their friends ask them to drink, help them develop a plan of action. Perhaps even role play. And make sure they know they can always call or text you to come get them if they find themselves in an iffy situation.
They might say, “but you drink alcohol, why can’t I?” Simply remind them that it is against the law for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. Point out that adult bodies are fully grown, and that our bodies handle alcohol differently than the bodies and brains of still growing children and teens.
When they ask how alcohol is bad for them? Explain the physical dangers, but also talk about the danger of making poor choices while under the influence and of the potential to let go of inhibitions that might embarrass them. Don’t use scare tactics, but be honest about the potential consequences.
They’re counting on you.