The earlier kids start drinking, the more likely they are to eventually become dependent on alcohol and to drive drunk. According to recent data: 1 in 37 students in the 8th grade got drunk, in the past month 1 in 5 8th graders binge drank in the past two weeks Binge Drinking is Bad News Binge drinkers are more likely to be: pushed, hit or attacked confronted with unwanted sexual advances sexually assaulted seriously injured Binge drinkers are also more likely to drive drunk, ride with a drunk driver, have their property damaged, have unprotected sex, and get exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. Even if your child says what you hope to hear (“I don’t drink”), it’s still important to talk together about alcohol. TIP
Ask questions, listen without defensiveness, and expand your child’s thinking. Discuss how he or she might handle or avoid risky situations that could come up. Your child may not admit to drinking yet, but you can still set no-alcohol rules and monitor their friends and activities. Talk together about alcohol to help prevent your child from drinking. Knowing the Facts as You Communicate Your Family’s Values Families take different approaches to alcohol use. Some parents permit their child to drink a controlled amount of alcohol under supervision on holidays or at family functions. Other parents don’t permit any alcohol at all before a child reaches the age of 21. We have met parents who teach basic family values, like honesty and responsibility, but never discuss alcohol directly with their kids. They assume that their son or daughter will know how to apply family values to alcohol. That’s a risky assumption. Pre-adolescents and adolescents’ brains are still developing and as a result they do not always make connections that are obvious to adults. You will empower your child to meet the challenges of growing up if you clearly discuss your expectations about alcohol, keep communication lines open, and set clear rules and consequences while monitoring their friends and activities.
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