Question: My 12-year-old son and his friends are always joking…
Dear Dr. JPL: Our teenage son, a college student, is coming home for the holidays. We think he is drinking at school. We don’t condone this but feel we have little control over his actions while he is at school. We do not however, want him drinking while he is at home. How should we handle the situation?
In reality you are dealing with two difficult dilemmas. To begin with, you are concerned that you underage son is drinking in college against your wishes. While it is true that you are not there to monitor his actions, you do have more influence over the situation than you realize. Since you don’t agree with this behavior you need to be clear with your teen about both your concerns and subsequent consequences if he chooses to drink.
You might want to say something like this: “You know we do not condone underage drinking. Since we cannot monitor all your actions while you are away at college, it is important that you understand that if we find out that you have been drinking there will be consequences.” Encourage him to help you come up with the potential consequences. He is more likely to abide by your wishes if he feels part of the process.
The second dilemma you need to manage is his behavior now that he is back at home. Once again it is important to discuss your expectations including household rules and consequences. Teens report that peer pressure is a top reason for drinking. By making it clear to your teen that this is not acceptable behavior, you make it easier for him to say no to his friends.
ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.