I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk about Drinking Program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Last month we started talking about how we can talk to our teens about underage drinking, and how we can coach them up to make responsible choices. This month, let’s get specific. It’s June and around here that means Proms are ongoing and Graduation is looming. With the help of the Family Talk about Drinking, sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, I want to break-down a couple strategies that we, as parents of adolescents, can employ to empower our youth. I certainly want my beautiful teenager empowered to make good decisions!
Last month, I asked you to share some thoughts on how you would talk to your teen about underage drinking and your responses were fantastic! I was so heartened to see that many of you are already engaging in dialogue with your teens. Like we talked about last time, YOU are the most important determinant of what they are going to choose – you may not decide for them, but you empower them to make the best decision possible when temptation arises. Now, how do we turn our knowledge into their power?
On the Family Talk about Drinking site, Parenting Coach MJ Corcoran told us that finding windows of opportunity to talk to our teens is key. She also told us that asking open-ended questions to help our teens think through the consequences of their decisions gives the kids the chance to imagine themselves succeeding in saying no to underage drinking. Over the past few weeks I have been using these tips to talk to our teen. An ideal window of opportunity for me has been when we are in the car together. Sometimes she is in the backseat, sometimes in the front, but either way I know I have her captive attention for a set period of time and that creates space to communicate with minimal distractions.
Using our travel time together has been great! It has given me the opportunity to listen to her share her concerns and thoughts, and it has forced her to stay engaged in a conversation long enough to at least receive the message I am sending regarding underage drinking. During these captive conversations, I have found that the advice given by Coach Corcoran about asking open-ended questions is invaluable. Instead of asking her how she’s going to say no, I ask things like, “How do you think it will feel if someone offers you a drink?” or “What do you think could happen if you make a mistake and have a drink?”. Asking questions like this gives her space to think and explore, and the lack of a simple “yes” or “no” as an answer means our conversation keeps flowing.
So how will you continue to the conversation with your teen?