Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: alcohol

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    6 Ways to Prevent Underage Drinking

    Stop and consider the potential negative consequences of underage drinking. Is it really worth the price your teen might pay, either immediately or in the future? In reality, poor choices in high school and college can absolutely impact a young person’s future in powerful ways. 

    Underage drinking is associated with a number of negative consequences such as: using drugs, getting bad grades, poor health, engaging in risky sexual behavior, making bad decisions and even suffering injury or death. Talk often with your teens about the dangers of alcohol. Making your expectations known today may cause them to think twice about taking a drink tomorrow. 

    Check out these stats on underage drinking from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2016 study and the The Centers for Disease Control.

    • 7.3 million young people under the age of 21 drank in the last month. 
    • 30% of high school students drank in the last 30 days.
    • 14% binge drank in the last 30 days.
    • 6% drove after drinking alcohol, and 17% rode with someone who had been drinking in the last 30 days.
    • 61.5% of high school seniors and 23% of 8th graders had tried alcohol at some point. 
    • More than 4,300 kids die from alcohol-related incidents each year.
    • Approximately 119,000 people under 21 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for alcohol-related injuries annually.

    Underage drinking is also associated with unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sexual activity, disruption of normal growth and sexual development, and physical and sexual assault.

    Here are some factors that may increase the risk that a teen will use alcohol.

    • Significant social transitions such as graduating to middle or high school;
    • Getting a driver’s license;
    • A history of social and emotional problems;
    • Depression and other serious emotional problems;
    • A family history of alcoholism; and
    • Contact with peers involved in troubling activities.

    Here are 6 ways you can prevent underage drinking:

    1. Stay actively involved in your children’s lives.
    2. Know where your children are and what they are doing. Make knowing their friends a priority.
    3. Set and enforce clear standards, including standards about alcohol use.
    4. Stay away from alcohol in high-risk situations. For example, do not operate or allow others to operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol.
    5. Get help if you think you have an alcohol-related problem. If you keep alcohol in your home, do not make it easily accessible to others.
    6. Don’t allow underage drinking in your home or provide alcohol for anyone who is under legal drinking age.

    Click here to read the entire article, which was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on October 28, 2018.

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    Preparing for Prom

    For many high school students, the senior prom is one of the highlights of their school career. They're ready to celebrate 13 years of hard work during this rite of passage before the next phase of life.

    But even though the prom’s focus is on the teens, this season can be tricky for parents, too. Even they experience the peer pressure. Plenty of parents know the realities of dealing with idea of being the “cool” parents.

    “The whole notion of being the cool parent who has the after-prom party, takes the car keys and allows alcohol in order to keep their teen and the rest of the group ‘safe’ is a flawed thought process,” says Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw. “What we really need is for parents to be the parent.”

    According to Tennessee law, there is no time when a child can legally drink before age 21. If an 18- or 19-year-old is caught holding a beer without even having a sip, he or she can still be arrested for underage possession. And unfortunately, the mugshot on Right to Know or Google won’t go away unless all charges are dropped, which could certainly impact future job opportunities. 

    A 16- or 17-year-old caught with alcohol at a house party or behind the wheel automatically loses their driver’s license. Then, they must go through an expensive, long, arduous process to regain their driving privileges.

    If you have a teen headed to the prom, there are some things you can do to help them have a great time.

    • Make sure they have a plan for the evening. Your teen should give you a complete rundown for the evening, including who they will be with and where they will go before and after the prom. Set expectations for checking in. Some parents want to hear from their teen whenever they move to a different location; others expect their teen to check in periodically throughout the evening.

    • Discuss curfew. Work together to determine a fair curfew. Consider your teen’s trustworthiness, maturity level and ability to be responsible.

    • Be specific about your safety concerns. Explain why prom night makes it more difficult to make safe and smart decisions. Don't leave anything to their imagination; discuss the dangers surrounding drinking, drugs, driving under the influence and sex. Know who will be driving. If your teen rents a limo with friends, check out the limo company’s rules about alcohol.

    • Be sure you have information about the after-party. Don't assume that your home rules also apply at the after-party location. Some parents believe it's OK to serve alcohol to underage teens as long as the keys are checked at the door. But parents who choose to have a party at their house where minors are drinking alcohol need to consider the consequences. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in the Hamilton County jail or probation for that amount of time. These consequences are minor compared to dealing with the loss of a life caused by teenage drinking.

    • Give your teen an unconditional offer for assistance. Make sure your teen knows that you want to be their first call for help. Some parents and teens have an agreed-upon code to use in case the teen feels uncomfortable with her date or does not want to go along with an unsafe plan. Be clear that you are willing to pick them up at any time and will save the lecture for later.

    • Most importantly, your teen needs to know you love him/her. One of the best ways to show love is to set limits. Help them understand that limits are there to make sure prom plans are safe.

    “The stakes for today’s teens are higher in some respects,” Philyaw says. “Being crazy in 1984 and being crazy now are two very different scenarios.

    “It is true: You only live once. We need to help our teens make wise decisions that will not haunt them as they launch into the next stage of life.”

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    Spring Break Safety Tips

    If you have teens or college-age young adults, you’ve probably had (or soon will have) ongoing conversations about how they’ll spend their break.

    As kids try to get permission (and money!) for the trip, you’ll hear phrases like these. “I’m almost an adult. This is a rite of passage.” Or, “It’s what college students do. We go to the beach and hang out.”

    The pressure is on for sure.

    But before you give in to that pressure, here is what research shows about spring break students:

    • The average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day, compared to 10 drinks for the average female.
    • Of the 783 young people surveyed, more than 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women said that they drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.
    • The U.S. Department of State fact sheet on “Spring Break in Cancun” states: “Alcohol is involved in the vast majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes and deaths suffered by American tourists in Cancun.”

    This has become a major issue on some Florida beaches. So much so, that places like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach police departments have taken precautionary measures to avoid problems. These cities have already posted open letters on Facebook to those planning to spend spring break there.

    “We have said it before, but just so we are clear,” says one of the letters, “If your top priorities when visiting the beach are being drunk and disorderly; breaking what you consider to be small rules like underage drinking, littering and leaving glass on the beach, urinating in public, using drugs, or engaging in violent or indecent behavior, Gulf Shores is definitely not the place for you.”

    Before you assume this is not an issue with your child, it’s helpful to remember that risk-taking peaks during adolescence. Instead of weighing risks based on logic and wisdom, teens are usually more concerned about how their choices will impact their peer relationships. They see being unaccepted relationally as a threat.

    Scientists found that while a teen might make good choices when he is alone, adding friends to the mix changes things. It makes him more likely to take risks for the reward of relationship instead of considering the cost. Even if your teen generally makes great decisions, getting together with hundreds of other spring breakers can make it seem like the rewards of risk-taking outweigh any future consequences.

    If your goal is for your spring breaker to be safe, here are a few things to consider:

    • Even if they don’t like the idea, you may decide to go along if you feel they aren’t ready to fly solo. It doesn’t mean you have to constantly hover over them. Checking in regularly with an adult can decrease the potential for poor decision-making.
    • Help unsupervised teens and young adults prepare well. Discuss their plans and where they are staying. Establish clear expectations about everything from social media and location check-in to communicating with you by phone at designated times.
    • Address the dangers of underage drinking, meeting up with strangers and the potential consequences (legal and otherwise) for poor choices. They also need to know how to protect themselves from sexual assault, date rape drugs and the like.

    Ultimately, the goal is to keep your child, and those around your child, safe over spring break. We all know that one irresponsible decision or crazy social post can change the trajectory of a young person’s life.

    Most of us would probably agree about one thing. It’s better to leave no stone unturned than to wish we had said something. Don’t be afraid to be “that parent.” You know, the one who encourages new experiences, knowing that a strong foundation can help them make the most of their opportunities.