As the holiday season rolls around, along with the attendant social gatherings, there will be more opportunities than ever for young people under the legal drinking age to have access to alcohol. Even if they’re not exposed to it at parties with friends, teens and even younger kids often get a hold of alcohol from their own homes from bars and kitchens stocked for parties.
Kids who have little or no experience with alcohol can suffer serious physical effects from even a few drinks. Consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period can be fatal. There can be legal ramifications as well. In Georgia, they could face a minor in possession charge for possessing and/or consuming alcohol.
Before the holiday parties begin, it’s important to talk with your kids about drinking. If you’ve already had “the talk,” this is a good time to reiterate it. This is not a “one-and-done” topic. It’s a discussion that parents should have throughout their kids’ pre-teen and teen years whenever the time feels appropriate, such as before a party. By helping them understand the consequences of underage drinking, you can help make the holiday season safe and trouble-free for your kids.
Like most big parent-child “talks,” moms and dads are often at a loss about what to say and what tone to take. A website called TheAlcoholTalk.com offers helpful tips for talking to your kids about alcohol use.
For example, encourage them to spend holiday time with kids they (and you) trust. This can limit their exposure to alcohol and peer pressure to drink if alcohol is around. During the holidays, they may be exposed to new kids or older kids home from college. Let them know that you will be asking questions about where they’re spending time and with whom. That’s your job as a parent.
Give them a safe word or phrase that they can use to text or call you without embarrassment if they’re in a situation they’re uncomfortable with. Make sure they feel comfortable calling you, even if they’ve messed up and given into temptation. Their safety is what’s important.
If your child is arrested on alcohol-related charges, it may be tempting to let them sit in jail or a juvenile facility for a while to learn their lesson. However, remember that any criminal conviction can have serious and potentially long-term ramifications.
Source: Women’s Forum, “How to Prevent Underage Drinking During the Holidays,” accessed Nov. 10, 2016