There is always one friend in every group. The one…
We have all heard about how we need to talk to our kids about the dangers of underage drinking.
Chances are that you have already had the conversation with your young adult at least once or twice. You have done a good job as a parent preparing your kids for the adult world as much as you possibly can, including the dangers of teens and alcohol by having “The Alcohol Talk.”
But what are you supposed to do when you’ve done everything right and your kid still chooses to follow their friends and drink alcohol anyway?
Your first reaction might be anger. How could your child do such a thing? After all, you have taught them your values since they were young and should know better, right?
Once you get past the anger, be careful not to fall into a pit of shame. As parents we often use our kids behaviors, good and bad, to evaluate ourselves. If our kids are getting good grades, being respectful of others and following the rules we set, we feel like we are successful. If our kids make the choice to ignore what you’ve been teaching them, then you might begin to feel like a failure as a parent.
The truth is that we are raising adults who will make mistakes, and some of those mistakes will likely begin at home. You can have a lot more influence when it comes to the mistakes they make while still living under your roof. So stop judging yourself based on your teens’ choices and see their mistakes as opportunities instead. We learn from our mistakes too, and you can have a huge role in what and how much is learned during that time of growth for your tween or teen.
The very first thing they need to know is that you love them, even if you are unhappy with the choices they make. If they do not know this first, then the chances of them hearing anything you say are little to none. Even more than that, if they question your love for them, they will also question your motives in trying to teach them to abstain from underage drinking. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can do overnight. So while you’re teaching them all of your values and lessons for life, make sure you are always intertwining it with pure love from you. Then if the time comes that they do make a mistake, they will trust you to help them walk through that time of growth and learning to become a better adult.
You can use this time to reassure them that everyone makes mistakes and help them understand why you hold the values you do. While you don’t want to condone the mistake they’ve made, you will want to use this time to help them take ownership of their mistakes and teach them that it is never alright to blame others for their poor choices. The hardest part for you will be allowing the mistake to be just that, a mistake.
Resist the urge to bring up past mistakes and turn a childish moment into who they are as a person at their core. Give them the ability to change their minds and their behavior when they are able to see why they need to do so. It’s not easy parenting, especially when we are faced with these kinds of challenges.
But it is so, so worth it!