“My drinking doesn’t impact my teen’s decision to drink.”
“My teen doesn’t pay attention to what I do – he’s influenced by his friends and the Internet.”
“My daughter has a mind of her own; my drinking doesn’t affect her.”
As the parent of a teen who drinks, it’s natural for all these thoughts to cross your mind. After all, what teen actually listens to their parents? Some days it can feel like you’re talking to a wall! Do the things you say or do actually matter? Yes, they really do!
How Much Do I Influence My Child?
If you drink alcohol, you may not realize how much your decision to drink – including how much you choose to drink, how frequently, and what you drink – could be influencing your child’s behavior. Actions speak louder than words. If one parent is a heavy drinker, your child’s chances of becoming a heavy drinker increase.
Teens are twice as likely to be drunk several times if they have seen their parents drunk, too. (1) Your teen is also more likely to binge drink if you allowed him or her to sip alcohol as a child.
According to new research published by Brown University, children with parents who allowed them to try a drink before or in sixth grade were five time more likely than their non-sipping schoolmates to finish off a full adult beverage while in ninth grade — and four times more likely to binge drink or be drunk. (2)
How You Can Help Your Teen with Alcohol Abuse
While your teen’s behavior is ultimately his or her choice, as a parent, it is important to set a positive example and talk with your child about the impact of their drinking. As a parent, it is natural to feel guilty or that your child’s alcohol use is somehow your fault – whether or not you drink around your child or have ever allowed them to do so in your presence.
It’s natural to feel frustrated with your teen’s choices, especially if you set firm rules around drinking and your teen continues to break them. It is normal to feel helpless in the face of peer pressure and pop culture. Don’t give up: your behavior does make a difference.
Regardless of why your teen is now using alcohol, there are many things you can do to help your child get healthy. This starts with learning everything you can about alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Utilize these resources to get informed about the facts about alcohol abuse and learn the best ways to speak up and offer your child your support. Like any chronic disease, the earlier that addiction is treated, the healthier your child will be in the long run. (3)
How to Create a Sober Environment for Your Teen
If you feel you are able to drink responsibly and enjoy alcohol in moderation, it is okay to continue doing so. However, it is also important that you make smart choices about your alcohol use and model responsible behavior. Enjoying a drink while away from your teen while you are at a dinner, party or wedding is completely acceptable.
However, keep in mind that coming home after a long workday and pouring yourself a stiff drink or a large glass of wine can send the wrong message to your children. Providing a sober environment that reduces triggers for using is an important part of the recovery process.
To learn more about how you can help your teen with drinking, talk to an addiction specialist today by calling us at 877-466-0620.
- Jenny Hope, Children Who See Parents Drink More Likely To Binge, The Daily Mail, June 17 2011, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2004540/Children-parents-drink-likely-binge.html
- Bill Briggs, Teens More Apt to Binge Drink if Parents Let Them Sip, Study, Today Health, Mar 31 2015, http://www.today.com/health/teens-more-apt-binge-if-parents-let-them-sip-kids-t12036
- Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD., Alcohol and Teens, MedicineNet, Mar 12 2014 http://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_teens/article.htm