We have all heard about how we need to talk…
It’s Friday night and you’re sitting on the couch watching television and waiting for your teen to come home. She mentioned she was going out with some friends but she wasn’t sure what, exactly, they would be doing. “Probably a movie,” she tells you as she throws on her hoodie and heads out the door to the waiting car.
Something in your gut screams that you’ve been lied to. But, there comes a time in a parent’s life where they have to trust their kid and hope they act responsibly. Then, as you flip through the stations, you thank your god that your kid wasn’t driving tonight.
The door flies open and your child is using two friends as support. The friends mutter something about drinking too much and yes, the designated driver remained sober, before flying back out your front door to get home before curfew.
You look at your kid. Your kid looks at you. She runs into the bathroom and pukes her guts out. And you know that your parental instincts were 100% right, the kid was drunk off her rocker. So, how do you handle this? Yell at your kid and punish her for the rest of her life, right then and there?
Six things to do when your teen comes home drunk:
- Get your kid safely into bed after you are sure there is no risk of alcohol poisoning. Make sure he isn’t on his back, especially after vomiting.
- Let your teen know how disappointed you are but leave it at that. Your kid is in no condition to talk about this right now. And, quite frankly, neither are you.
- Don’t discuss this incident in depth until the morning, after both of you have had time to emotionally regroup. You’ll probably both be exhausted in the morning, but maybe you’ll be calmer.
- Find a non-combative way to start the conversation. Maybe something like, “Hey, doesn’t throwing up suck?” Or maybe, “So, how much did you really drink last night?” Something simple to get the conversation going.
- Even if this was the first time your teen was caught coming home drunk, let your kid know that this action invokes a consequence. Grounding him from going out for a week, taking away her cell phone, whatever. Some sort of punishment reinforces the fact that this wasn’t okay.
- If your teenager was the designated driver, he failed. Enforcing stronger consequences are necessary for this scenario, like taking away the car keys.
If you believe your child has any sort of drinking problem, call your pediatrician who will guide you in the right direction. Kids experiment. They push boundaries. They cause premature greying of their parents’ hairs. They may sometimes make unwise choices, many of which are par for the course. As parents, we need to be there to guide them, support them and pray that one day they raise a responsible teen of their own.