PROM: A time of concern and unanswered questions for most parents. Parents find themselves in a dilemma regarding the best way to address most teens' questions, with safety topping the list.
Binge drinking - Does your teen realize that binge drinking can possibly result in fatal alcohol poisoning? Large amounts of alcohol can affect judgement, lead to risky and even violent behavior and slow down reaction time. Statistics to consider: the leading cause of death of teens 15-24 is alcohol related car crashes, 15% of high school seniors drive while intoxicated, 7000 teenagers and young adults die in alcohol related car crashes, and it is illegal to purchase or consume alcohol under the age of 21.
1 drink = 5 oz. of 12% wine
1 drink = 1.5 oz. of 80% proof liquor
1 drink = 12 0z. of 5% beer
Neither coffee nor a cold shower will help sober someone up.
Only time can do that.
Peer Pressure - How do teens refuse trouble when everybody is doing it? Knowing how to refuse trouble is a skill all teens should know. Parents can help teens avoid trouble and keep their friends with the use of these skills. Skills practiced before needed provide teens with the security to avoid trouble.
Identify a scenario with possible trouble
- Ask questions... "What are we going to do?"
- Name the trouble... (Teen responds) "That's ...!"
- Identify the consequence... (Teen identifies) "If I did that, then..."
- Suggest an alternative... (Teen thinks of alternatives to suggest to friend) "Instead why don't we..."
- Move it, sell it, leave the door open... (Teen practices telling a friend who refuses to do another alternative) "If you change your mind..."
Remind your teen if pressure continues they should try looking the person in the eye and repeating the person's name while continuing to express the above skills.
Remember, taking time to practice these useful skills before trouble begins allows teens the security necessary to say "no." Try playing a "What if" game with your teen: make up scenarios and ask teens how they would react prior to Prom Night so the skills are fresh in their minds and trouble can be avoided.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University report that "children tell us that their parents can be the single greatest influence in their decision not to use..."
What Can Parents Do?
Before talking to your teen about drinking and driving, drug use, etc.:
1. Establish a clear position on these subjects yourself. To do this, clarify a vision you have for your child and decide how that vision will be accomplished. Also, visualize how drugs will alter that vision. Then establish your family position on drugs and the consequences of not following these established guidelines. The consequences can be both positive and negative. Positive consequences should result from positive behavior. An example:
"You will not use alcohol in any form."
Negative consequence - no allowance for a month
Positive consequences - after 3 months, have friends over for a pizza party
Research tells us teens that know the expectations of their parent(s) are less likely to get involved in trouble than those teens that don't know family expectations. Providing a clear family position on issues shows teens that parents care.
"In short, the impact of parents is more important than commonly thought. Your power as a parent comes from several sources, and its effectiveness is marked by the time spent with your children and the consistency of the message."
(National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University)
2. Network with other parents - Know where your teen will be and for how long. Know the person's address and phone number and agree to a check-in time with your teen. This will make you feel better and reassure your teen that you care about their well-being. Clear expectations between parent, teen and other parents and teens bring everyone together for a fun, safe event.
3. Share your feelings and expectations with your teen - show your concern for your teen's safety in a sensitive, non-accusatory way - e.g., "I feel scared and worry about you when you are out with your friends. I love you and want you to be safe." This expression encourages positive youth development and strong family bonding. If a parent doesn't approve of something a teen insists on doing, you might respond by, "I don't think this is the best choice, but if you're determined to do it, I'd like to help you think about a way to do it that keeps you safe."
A HEALTHY FAMILY:
- Communicates and listens
- Affirms and supports one another
- Has strong family traditions
- Respects each others' privacy
- Shares responsibility
- Teaches right from wrong
- Develops trust
- Has a sense of humor
- Establishes clear expectations