When may be the best time to talk with your child about alcohol? Kids are often tired after a school day or athletic event, and that may not be the best time to start a conversation. Think about your child’s schedule and how you can create a time where you will have his or her undivided attention. Perhaps take him or her out to a quiet dinner or someplace where you can comfortably start a “one- on-one” conversation. GETTING YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER TO TALK Parents can be frustrated by their inability to get their middle school child to talk at length on any issue. They swear that their son or daughter has a vocabulary of “Okay, Mom,” “I dunno,” “Whatever,” “If you want,” and “Not now” when it comes to parental conversation. “Eye rolls” from the child may also punctuate these statements. Kids may respond this way when they are busy, tired, or simply not in the mood for talking. Perhaps they fear getting another lecture or that the parent will start nagging again. Kids may feel the parent just doesn’t understand them. Parents need to respect how their child may feel and not force communication at a bad time. Let the matter drop and bring it up later. Try to pick a time when your child will be open to talking.

Talk every day about things that matter to your son or daughter. Ask questions and seek understanding. This makes conversation flow more easily when it’s time to discuss “heavier” topics, such as alcohol. Seek discussion; don’t lecture! Share your own experiences and opinions and how they have changed over the years. As you are willing to open-up and share experiences, so will your son or daughter. Keep distinctions between facts and opinions. Say things like, “My opinion is ... This opinion is based on these facts and observations.” Ask your son or daughter what he or she thinks. Listen and try to understand without being defensive. Suspend your critical judgment while you listen attentively. This is probably the single most important aspect of good communication. People like to talk about themselves and their opinions. People like to explore logic and details. They do not like to be told what to think! Keep comments short. Remember, you don’t have to say everything that comes to mind. Kids tend to tune out when parents make big, sweeping comments like “kids getting drunk is terrible.” Well-chosen silence can actually encourage your child to talk more and engage more in the conversation.


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