“I think my teen is abusing alcohol.”
Every parent, at some point or another, comes across a fear that brings them to their knees: teen drinking. Unfortunately, statistics show that this problem is more common than most parents want to admit. An article on the We Don’t Serve Teens website said that more than seven percent of eighth graders, 16 percent of sophomores, and 23 percent of high school seniors report recent binge drinking, which is defined as consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion.
God on Your Side
For parents who are religious, praying alone or with their teen may be comforting and help them navigate through this difficult time. As Pastor Ed Young noted Crosswalk.com that God definitely listens to, and answers, prayers.
“Sometimes the toughest answer to receive from God is ‘Wait,’” Young explained, adding that when this happens, parents need to remind themselves that God is in control and can certainly handle their situation. “We need to allow Him to continue working in whatever way He sees fit. And we can’t try to take back the situation, but must truly be patient and wait on God’s timing!”
Keep Calm and Carry On
During the course of the conversations, parents need to stay calm and avoid criticizing their teenager, no matter what he or she says. Offer reassurance and understanding that while taking risks is common as kids grow up, drinking alcohol is an extremely risky behavior. Also, parents should advise their teen that riding in a car with someone who has been drinking, or taking the wheel after consuming alcohol, is expressly forbidden.
Teens are more likely to drink if there is conflict between their parents or caregivers, if the family is experiencing money issues, or if there is abuse going on in the home. By talking with their teen about any financial problems and being honest in a way that is not frightening, it can help reassure the child that things will be okay.
The We Don’t Serve Teens also quotes statistics from the U.S. Surgeon General which state that about 5,000 kids who are 21 years of age and under die every year as the result of underage drinking. Teens who drink are also at risk for developing an ongoing addiction to alcohol. But what should parents do to help their teens who are drinking? As a Medline Plus article stated, parents who suspect that there is a problem should definitely speak up—and the sooner the better.
“Saying nothing to your children about drinking may give them the message that teen drinking is okay. Most children choose not to drink because their parents talk with them about it,” the article said.
In addition, parents should tell their child how they feel about drinking alcohol. Once the dialogue has started, it will be easier to maintain over time. If alcohol abuse runs in the family, it is especially important to discuss this with their teen. This is not the time to keep family secrets. By talking honestly about how alcohol has affected family members, it can help the teen understand more about the risks of drinking.
Contributor: Steve Collins
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