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Prepping for Prom: Should Parents Tell Teens to Drink Responsibly?

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Prepping for PromI’m issuing a challenge to parents this prom and graduation season: Tell your teenagers not to drink. Before you shake your heads and tell the computer screen that I’m delusional if I think they won’t drink anyway, hear me out.

When parents tell teens to drink responsibly, what they hear is, “It’s okay to drink. My parents said so!” Aside from the fact that it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol, turning a blind eye to teen drinking at any time is an invitation to binge drinking.

Those who believe the myth that European teens don’t have problems with binge drinking because they “learn” to drink at home with their parents should know that many studies over the years show that European teens have a HIGHER rate of binge drinking than American teens. According to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs, the proportion of 15 to 16-year-olds who binge drink is higher in France and Italy than in the U.S. Binging is even more prevalent in Denmark, Ireland, the U.K. and other northern European countries.

There is no reason young adults can’t learn to drink responsibly when they turn 21. They don’t need to start by getting conditioned to the taste of alcohol and the feel of getting buzzed as teens. Rather than give them wine with dinner, adults can model responsible drinking by sticking to one glass themselves, and reinforcing the message that alcohol is unhealthy for growing teens.

One of the top reasons teens say they don’t drink is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents. Rather than throw our hands up in defeat, we can use our powerful influence to prevent our kids from drinking, set rules and do whatever we need to do to keep our teens healthy and safe at prom, graduation and other celebrations.

If your teen is attending prom or other celebrations this season, are you planning on telling them not to drink alcohol?  Let us know what you plan on doing!

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3 Responses to this article

  1. Brian / July 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    One problem with all of these theories. Teens stay with friends after prom usually, and if its not Prom then if they are drinking they are probably at a friends house “watching movies”.

    Instead of telling kids to drink responsible or not to drink at all and punishing them (cause negative re-enforcement is just so effective…) why not actually teach our kids what alcohol does, how and why it effects people and let them LEARN FROM THEIR OWN MISTAKES.

    I have never understood parents that shelter their kids from the world, you won’t always be teach your kids to take responsibility for their actions and learn form their mistakes and all of a sudden you don’t even have to worry about whether or not your kids is binge drinking.

    Kids ARE GOING TO DRINK, it is a part of growing up that almost ALL OF US took part in as well. Lets stop focusing on kids drinking or doing drugs and focus more on parents not educating their children how to make good choices.

  2. Marie Bruno / May 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I don’t believe that anyone under the age of 21 is capable of Drinking Responsibly. Once the alcohol is in the bloodstream, an intoxicated brain controls decision making. Instead of telling my kids to Drink Responsibly, I Parent Responsibly and abide by the law; “No,” is a complete sentence without room for interpretation.

  3. Mark / April 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Don't just tell your kid not to drink. Tell them there will be consequences if they do and what the consequence will be. Be awake when they come home and see what condition they are in and if necessary, follow through with the consequences.
    This sends two messages:
    You are aware and
    You care

    If you are involved in, or are gearing up for, a war on drugs in your own house that last thing you want to be is ignorant and apathetic. Vigilance doesn't alway send a message that says I don't trust you. Why not use it as a tool to entrust young adults with greater responsibility if they have demonstrated an ability to handle it.

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