When it comes to teens, parental involvement is vital. Talking to teens about the consequences of drinking and driving can’t simply be one conversation that occurs when teens obtain their driver’s license. It’s an ongoing issue. Parents must be vigilant when it comes to teens and alcohol. Alcohol-related crashes are one of the leading causes of accident-related fatalities. Parents don’t want their teens to be hurt in accidents and, of course, they don’t want their teens to hurt anyone else when they’re behind the wheel. The following tips can help parents navigate this issue that simply can’t be left alone.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Many parents talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol and the deadly combination of drinking and driving. Unfortunately, many parents take it for granted that their teen understood and won’t make alcohol-related mistakes. Parents shouldn’t take it for granted that their teens are alcohol free or that their friends are too. Parents need to make sure the venues or places their teen visits are, in fact, alcohol free.
Moreover, be sure an adult in the home comes into contact with the teen each night. Assess the teen for signs of alcohol. Many teens do experiment with alcohol. If they didn’t, this wouldn’t be such a pronounced issue among teens. Be sure to know where your teen goes and what they do when they go out. While it’s important for parents to be able to trust their teens, parents still have to keep in mind that teens are minors and still their responsibility.
Enforce a Curfew
Did you know that most drunk driving crashes occur between 1 AM and 3 AM? Make sure your teen isn’t out on the road during these times for his or her safety. Talk to your teen about the importance of curfew, but also stress the need for caution when driving. Speeding also increases the risk of a crash. Even so, let your teen know that there are tough consequences in store for breaking the rules and for ignoring curfew. Teens need to know their boundaries and while they may test them, it’s important that parents come through with those consequences consistently.
If you know or suspect that your teen has been drinking and driving or drinking and riding in a car driven by someone who was drinking, it’s important to follow through with touch consequences. Teens should absolutely lose their driving privileges. In many states, if the police catch a minor drinking, they will have their license suspended for a year even if no vehicle was involved. If a teen is caught by the police driving while under the influence, a DUI is likely to be issued and both the teen and parents can face serious consequences.
Therefore, if you cannot trust a teen to refrain from drinking and driving, you must prevent them from access to vehicles and cancel their insurance. A car is a serious weapon in the hands of drunk driver. If you teen injures someone or worse, the consequences can be astronomical for all involved.
Get to Know Other Parents
It was normal in elementary school to get to know other parents, but it’s just as important during the teenage years to connect with the parents of your teen’s friends. You can form an alliance with parents so that everyone is vigilant and knows exactly what’s going on with the teens. Since teens often come into contact with alcohol at parties, it’s important to know where such parties take place and what kind of supervision–if any–is involved. By establishing relationships with other adults, you’ll feel more comfortable connecting to find out who will be home to keep an eye on the teenagers.
Get to Know Their Friends
They say that drinking habits almost always begin through peer pressure. Most teens have this strong need to be socially accepted and unfortunately, breaking ground rules to drink with friends despite being a minor is a social standard in their world. Connecting with your friend’s parents may be enough, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know their friends directly. Invite them over and let them feel welcome, and trusted.
Be sure to keep this in mind as well – teens who feel the trust of another adult, especially the parent of their friend, can put on a heavyweight every time they would try to think of breaking the rules or putting the life of their child at risk. It gives them second thoughts. Though I’m not saying that this is a fact proven by science, it’s how it feels for a lot of teens out there.
Don’t Unlock the Bar
Even if you trust your teen, it’s a good idea to keep alcohol locked away. Teens often obtain alcohol from their own homes or their friends’ homes. Don’t leave accessible alcohol around and assume that it won’t be a temptation for your teen. Also, be sure to model good behavior. Drink responsibly or don’t drink in front of minors. Make sure that if you have parties, you keep them in check and don’t allow any disorderly conduct to occur including allowing minors access to alcohol.
Or Maybe, Unlock the Bar for Them
This may be a bit contradictory to the previous tip and some parents won’t agree. However, I’m listing this as an option because teens may have different styles of upbringing. Some teens may take their parents more seriously in their threat about the danger of drunk driving if you trust them enough to let them drink under your supervision. This is a tip that can also help your teen be less curious about drinking. If they drink under the supervision of a responsible adult, they can be at ease and lose control to determine their alcohol tolerance and realize how alcohol may affect their behavior without putting them at risk of doing something stupid – because you’re watching!
Seek Professional Help
Finally, if your teen continues to break your rules regarding alcohol if after you’ve enforced consequences, you should seek professional assistance. These issues do not resolve all by themselves. Be proactive about helping your teen kick their addiction before it rules their life and wrecks their life. If you aren’t sure where to turn, you can talk to your teen’s school counselor and physician and begin there.
Teenage alcoholism and teen drinking and driving are serious problems. Follow these tips to ensure that you do everything in your power to keep your teen on the right path.