Underage drinking continues to plague our community. It’s important that we work together to make Manitowoc County a healthier place for all our citizens.
Studies show that parents have the greatest influence on a child’s decision to drink. More than 70 percent of children say parents are the leading influence in their decision to drink or not. Children not only look at their parents’ actions and attitudes on alcohol but also want to know directly from their parents’ rules and expectations about drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, if you are a parent, it’s helpful to communicate your rules about alcohol. Be consistent in setting and enforcing the rules. Remind your child about the laws regarding underage drinking and have open conversations about alcohol. It may be best to have short and informal conversations rather than a lengthy talk where it may be easier for the teen to tune out the subject. Because the chances of the child trying alcohol increase as they get older, it’s important to start the conversations when they are younger.
Teens party together and take part in underage drinking. (Photo: Getty Images)
When your child approaches driving age, warn the child about the dangers of drinking and driving. Consider developing a behavioral contract that spells out your expectations and state the consequences if your teen drives after drinking any amount of alcohol. Be sure to follow through with all aspects of the agreement, and take away driving privileges if that is what is agreed upon. Let your teen know that no matter what happens, you will be there for him or her. Tell them their safety is your main concern. This may mean you will go out at midnight to pick up your teen from a party that has gone wrong with no questions asked.
I’ve listed just a few of the things a parent may try to help their child remain alcohol-free. It’s important that our community pulls together to help all our children avoid the dangers associated with underage drinking.
Brian Boomgarden is a member of the Healthiest Manitowoc County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Herald Times Reporter Article published February 4, 2019