Should You Tell Your Kids to Drink Responsibly?

Prom season used to make me think limos and dresses and fun. Now, it makes me think kids and booze and sex. It isn’t my age doing this to me, it is the age of my oldest daughters. They are 15 and 16. Year by year, I am losing my let-the-kids-be rock anthem-type attitude. It is alright for other people’s kids, but not mine. I make it very clear whenever the opportunity arises my kids are not allowed to drink. I tell them their brains are still developing and every year they put off drinking significantly decreases their risk of addiction. I say these things, and I hope they are listening, but unfortunately, too soon I think it will also be time to tell them how to manage drinking.

I’m not naive. I know kids have been sneaking booze for as long as there has been moonshine. We used to put it in hairspray bottles — occasionally when I am drinking a vodka martini, I still get a faint whiff of Aqua Net. Now, girls are hiding it in ziplock baggies stuffed in bras. I don’t even want to think about where the boys are hiding it.
Kids shouldn’t drink — bottom line. It is illegal and it is dangerous. But, they are going to. Talk to your kids about alcohol. Explain the dangers of drinking, especially binge drinking. Reinforce the message that drinking and driving kills.
Are you condoning drinking if you offer some suggestions on how to avoid drinking too much?  Maybe, but parents turning a blind eye has led to many a tragedy.

Tips To Give Your Kids to Avoid Drinking Too Much:
1. If you want to fit in, just hold the cup. You don’t have to chug it — you don’t even have to drink it.
2. Don’t take a drink from anyone unless you know exactly where it came from.
3. Count your drinks and pace yourself. Do not drink more than one an hour.
4. Make sure to eat.
5. Drink water or soda in between drinks.
6. Do NOT do shots.
7. Don’t play drinking games.
8. Put your drink down once in a while. Holding onto it ensures you drink it faster.
9. Know what constitutes a drink. One ounce of hard alcohol is the same as a beer or a glass of wine.
10. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, sleepy or odd in any way, stop and move onto a non-alcoholic beverage.

Know the Facts (according to the CDC)
• More than 4500 teens die from drinking each year.
 There are almost 200,000 alcohol related emergency room visits for people under the age of 21 each year
• 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S. is consumed by 12-20 year olds
Of this amount, 90% is consumed during binge drinking episodes
• 8% of high school drivers have driven after drinking in the last 30 days
• 24% rode with a person who had been drinking in the last 30 days
• A 1/3 of 8th graders have tried alcohol.

These numbers scare me, especially the last one. I don’t know the answer, but I do know the answer is not to pretend it isn’t happening. At the very least, make sure your kids feel comfortable calling you at any hour for a ride. I would’ve never called my parents for fear of getting into trouble, and when I look back, it is nothing short of a miracle I avoided being a statistic.

Please share this article. Let’s get a real conversation going.
“They shouldn’t drink because it is illegal,” is not a problem solving strategy.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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