Talking to your kids about alcohol is, admittedly, not at the top of your list of favorite things to do with your child. But it matters.
As parents, we have far more influence than we think and talking openly can have more of an impact than you might imagine. Consider these tips:
Listening is key
As parents we often feel we have to have “all the answers.” But there doesn’t always have to be a ready answer. And you don’t have to rush to impart your great wisdom. Just listen. Your child wants to be heard.
Ask open ended questions
In this abbreviated world we inhabit where we communicate with our kids by texts, “R U OK?” –– it’s easy to fall into the yes/no trap. But to get real information, you have to talk to your child regularly – about their feelings, their friends, their activities – and listen to what they have to say.
Be involved in your child’s world. Get to know his friends. Watch her game. Listen to his band. Whatever. Just be there.
Set expectations, limits and consequences
You’re the parent, not the friend. Let your child know that you don’t want her drinking alcohol or using drugs and that you trust him not to. Educate and communicate.
Control your emotions
Be prepared to hear something you might not like. They’re finding their way. If you do, take a few deep breaths and communicate your feelings in a constructive way.
Try to make conversations “win-win” experiences
We’re not keeping score here. It doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. Show respect for your child’s viewpoint, and he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.