Unquestionably you are the most influential role model in your child’s life.

Unquestionably you are the most influential role model in your child’s life.As our children grow and develop, they go through many changes both physically and emotionally. Many of these changes are influenced by the media, technology, teachers and friends. As they transition it becomes crucial to try and maintain a positive parent-child relationship and to understand the struggles that they are facing. Between life’s stressors, relationship concerns, body changes and peer/society pressure many of our youth think about using alcohol to help deal with these issues. They may also use alcohol as a way to be rebellious or simply because they are curious and “everyone else is doing it”.

It is important to know that underage drinking is not limited to college students and fraternity parties. In fact, the age that kids experiment with alcohol is younger than ever. The danger that underage drinking imposes on our youth and their development is tremendous. Alcohol is more likely to kill young people than all other illegal drugs combined.

It is also a contributing factor to the following problems:

  • Drinking and driving
  • Suicide
  • Sexual assault
  • High risk sex/regretful sex
  • Injuries

Some parents feel helpless in addressing this problem but there are things that you can do to help. Spend time with your teen and get involved in their life. Get to know how, where and who they are spending their time with away from home. Provide some protective boundaries such as curfew, relationship building with your teenager’s friends’ parents and asking questions. By providing protective boundaries you are letting your child know that you care and you are aware of the temptations that may pull them in a number of different directions. Try to maintain a positive relationship with your teen by modeling responsible adult behavior and checking your own beliefs and attitudes about underage drinking. Perhaps most importantly recognize and respond to early warning signs. These can be obvious signs such as they look intoxicated, they smell like alcohol, they have new friends that you do not trust or alcohol is missing from the house to more subtle signs such as a loss of interest in activities that normally interested them, a drop in grades, dishonesty or mood swings.