We are right in the midst of Homecoming Dances and some parents of teenagers are worried and wondering if their children are drinking. Of course we all know that teen drinking is bad - although some parents think it is a "right of passage" and look the other way.
Hopefully, most of us parents realize that early exposure to alcohol can have long-term consequences and lead our children down a path of destruction and addiction. Surprisingly addictions kills more women than Breast Cancer - but there is no "Three Day Walk for Alcoholism" in the same fashion as breast cancer - mainly, I think, because most feel that addiction was brought on by the person's bad behavior rather than being a true disease.
Recent studies have found that of those individuals who began drinking before age 14, 47 percent experienced dependence at some point, vs. 9 percent of those who began drinking at age 21 or older.
So waiting to drink is good - but how do we get that message across to our kids?
Here are 6 tips:
1. Talk early and often with your children about drinking. Get in the habit of talking every day with your child.
I try and ask my daughter 3 questions every day to keep lines of communication open
- What was the best part of your day?
- How do you feel about you today?
- Tell me three things you are grateful for today.
2. Get involved. Volunteer at school or in after school activities. Young people have less mental health and substance abuse problems when they have caring people involved in their lives.
3. Be a role model. Your own actions are the most powerful indicators of what is acceptable or unacceptable to your children. If you drink heavily or take drugs in front of your children, there is a good chance they will follow suit.
4. Teach kids to choose friends wisely. Their peer group will be one of the biggest influence's of their actions as teens. Who are your kid's friends and their families - get to know them and discourage the friendship if you see red flags.
5. monitor your children's activities. Limit the amount of time your child spends without adult supervision. Unsupervised they run the risk of experimenting in risky behavior including drugs and alcohol.
This is the reason so many of the parents of our Homecoming and Prom groups in our limos and party buses like how strict we are about Teen Drinking. We require that all underage passengers and their parents sign a Teen I Promise document stating that they will not drink on this night and that if they are caught the night is over (that we will inspect bags, they cannot bring their own opened water bottles on-board, etc., etc.). We take it very seriously and have terminated many rides when they are caught drinking.
6. Set rules. Make clear, sensible rules for your children and enforce them with consistent and appropriate consequences. Follow through is key - as I have learned the hard way. Saying your child is grounded for life (like I do out of frustration sometimes) is not realistic or enforceable. . .
We just finished another wonderful long weekend, Labor Day, a time when family and friends get together and celebrate the end of summer and the kids being back in school! Unfortunately, for many people the weekend celebrations ended up in a DUI arrest. Now they are on a long path of huge expenses and legal trouble.
How do you avoid a DUI? It is simple and easy - just follow these steps:
1. Drink at home - you organize the party and invite all your friends and family over. Make sure and wash the guest bed sheets and get some blankets ready for the couch because there will be some friends that need a place to sleep it off and that is okay. It is better to have some people over for breakfast who are alive - than have them killed or hurt somebody else in a drunk driving accident.
2. Find a bar/restaurant you can walk to. Just be careful of really over doing it because you can get in trouble for public intoxication - or even get a DUI if you are caught riding your bike when drinking. This works better if you live in Scottsdale or Tempe - but there are usually neighborhood bars in well - every neighborhood.
3. Designate a driver in advance. It doesn't work to try and figure it out on the fly. The day was stressful - or it was fun and everybody wants to celebrate - nobody is willing to step up to be the designated. Switch it up - it's my turn this time - your turn next and don't deviate from the plan. I was always the worst at this - I never wanted to be designated and threw a tantrum when it was my turn. But somebody has to suck it up and not drink. I promise you that you can have fun sober - I've done myself for the last 3 years.
4. Get a cab. If you are in old town Scottsdale, cabs are buzzing around like "flies on poop" - there is no excuse to not hail one. No money isn't a valid excuse. You went out - you had the money for drinks. The cab can take you through an ATM to get cash. Trust me, it is cheaper to pay for a cab than pay for a DUI.
5. Get a limo or party bus. Of course I was going to say this right? We have a limo company. And we don't always understand why a group of friends can't seem to scrape together $17-25 a person to get a limo or party bus. It actually saves you money to get a limo or party bus because you can drink on-board and get VIP access into clubs!
There really is no excuse to get a DUI - but thousands and thousands of people did this last Labor Day weekend. Hopefully you can try and use one of these tips and it can save your life or the lives of others!
July 17, 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act to the age of 21. It's obviously not working. How many of you out there waited until you were 21 to take your first drink? You can go to war, vote, drive a car - but you cannot drink. Many, many feel that that this law is not work. That if the age requirement was lowered that this would give people a chance to get educated - just like driver's education - drinking education.
Choose Responsibly is putting the issue out there and pushing for a change in the laws - here are some arguements from their website:
What are the arguments for the 21 year-old drinking age?
- It saves lives by preventing alcohol-related traffic fatalities for 18-20 year olds and the rest of the population
- Since the developing adolescent brain is affected differently by alcohol than the adult brain, the 21 year-old drinking age protects adolescents and young adults from the its potentially negative consequences
- The earlier one starts to drink, the more likely he or she will experience alcohol dependence and related problems later in life.
What are the arguments against the 21 year-old drinking age?
- Any benefits of the 21 year-old drinking age have come to be more than offset by unintended and largely negative consequences.
- The 21 year-old drinking age is an abridgement of the age of majority.
- The 21 year-old drinking age marginalizes the role of parents in the process of teaching and encouraging responsible decisions about alcohol use.
- Under the 21 year-old drinking age, fewer young people are drinking, but those who do choose to are drinking more. This alarming rise in the rates of binge drinking on campuses and in communities around the nation has caused a major, national public health problem.
- The 21 year-old drinking age breeds disrespect for law and ethical compromises.
What do you think? Do you feel that law should be changed or left the same?