Few situations can weigh heavier on a parent than the…
Dear Dr. JPL:
Our teen told us her best friend has been drinking. She is really worried about her and so am I. How should I approach her parents?
This can be a difficult dilemma. How you respond will depend in great part on your relationship with the parents of your daughter’s best friend.
If these are people you know pretty well and feel comfortable with, a straight approach is best. Call them up and let them know that your daughter is concerned and offer as much information as possible. Let them know you care about them and their daughter. Also let them know that you would rely on them to offer any news/concerns about your own daughter.
If her parent’s are people you do not know very well, or perhaps not at all, the situation can feel a bit more stressful.
Calmly call them. It helps to start by talking about their daughter’s positive qualities. For example you could say something like this: “ Hi it’s Joan Smith, Mary’s mom. I just want to let you know how wonderful your daughter is.” You can continue by getting to the point: “The reason I am calling is that Mary came to me very concerned about your daughter. It seems ……”
Be sure to make clear how difficult this might be to hear but also let her parents know you would welcome the same response from them.
It is not predictable how her parents will react. Not all parents will take this information kindly. If they offer a negative response, gently let them know that you are genuinely concerned and felt compelled to offer them the information. You can’t control other people’s responses but that should not deter you from relaying the information to them.
If you do not feel comfortable calling them directly you can contact your daughter’s school counselor (if they attend the same school) and fill her in on the situation. Alternatively, take some time to investigate if you have any friends who know the family well. If so, call them up and ask if they would be willing to relay the information. The most important thing is that the information is delivered directly to the young lady’s parents by a reliable source.
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.