Her Best Friend Is Drinking – Ask Dr. JPL

Her Best Friend Is Drinking – Ask Dr. JPL



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.

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Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is one of the tween, teen and parenting experts that participated in the focus groups that helped form the new educational campaign and website, TheAlcoholTalk.com. Her expertise and vast experience were also tapped for much of the advice and guidance included on the site. Her unique understanding of the communication techniques necessary for The Alcohol Talk to effectively take place make her an ideal spokesperson for the campaign. Dr. Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with tweens, teens, young adults, and their families. She is co-author of the book Teenage as a Second Language (Adams Media 2010) and the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of www.Talkingteenage.com, an interactive informational website for the parents of teenagers. Jennifer is a regular contributor for outlets including Psychology Today, Parenting Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, GalTime, KnowMoreTV, Examiner, and North Texas Kids. She has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo, AOL’s ParentDish, Mamapedia and many other blogs and websites. As a parenting expert on both radio and television programs including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, NBC’s TODAY in New York, Better TV and WCBS, FOX and ABC affiliates, Jennifer talks about tween, teen and parenting issues. She was profiled in Westchester Magazine’s January 2012 feature on ‘People to Watch Jennifer is a published researcher, in-demand speaker and consultant on tween, teen, and young adult issues. She spent almost a decade as a Program Director of an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit at a private psychiatric hospital in the Northeast where she now serves as Senior Clinical Liaison. She is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University. Jennifer sits on the Board of Directors for Family Ties, a non-profit family advocacy agency serving Westchester County, NY and maintains a private outpatient practice in Bedford Hills, NY.

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