Well done for guiding your young person through their early years. After over a decade of parenting experience (or more!), you may now be facing the joys and challenges of the adolescent years.
Parents, grandparents and guardians can feel fearful or anxious about this time, particularly as their young person begins to socialise more independently with their friends. So here, we simply want to reassure you that this time is to be enjoyed and working together with other parents can make this a safe and enjoyable time for your young person.
Starting a conversation about alcohol and other drugs
Before starting a conversation with your young person where you may ask them multiple questions, it may be worth asking yourself a few.
Is what I believe about alcohol and other drugs true?
We’d encourage you to be informed with all the facts about what young people today are actually choosing to do when they celebrate. Before starting the conversation and basing the discussion purely on what you hear, find out what’s really going on with young people, alcohol and other drugs. This will allow you to encourage your young person with the great choices the majority of young people make and what the accurate harms and consequences are for those who choose to make poor choices.
For families with more than one parent/guardian, are you all on the same page?
Your young person needs to know that no matter what parent/guardian they’re speaking to, they’re going to get consistent messages and information. Alcohol or no alcohol at parties? What age do you consider it to be ok for them to begin drinking? It is important for the parents or guardians to have this discussion before the young person gets to this stage to ensure a clear and consistent message is shown.
When and where will you have this conversation?
Where did your parents have this conversation with you? Would you do the same? Your parents may have sat you down at the dinner table or simply avoided the conversation altogether. Each parent will have a different approach to discussing these topics depending on their young person’s age, and the environment their young person will best respond to. Environments that are often not as intimidating maybe while watching TV, when there is a relevant topic or scenario or while driving in the car. We know that early conversations about alcohol and other drugs are important.
What questions will you ask?
Open questions are the key to ensuring your young person feels heard and distances any negative behaviours from them personally.
- What about going to a party do you enjoy most?
- How do you feel about alcohol at parties?
- How do you think you would get out of a situation you’re not comfortable with?
It is all well and good to ask open-ended questions, but if they don’t feel listened to it defeats the purpose of the conversation. Active listening (saying back to the person what you think you’ve heard) will confirm what they’re saying and show your young person you care about what they’re saying.
What are your clear rules and expectations that you want to communicate to your young person?
Give clear reasoning for why you are enforcing these rules. Peer pressure may arise that may make your young person feel like they have to break the rules so discuss strategies to support them to keep to these rules.
Want to find out more? We provide parent seminars for schools and community groups, catered to suit the audience of parents. Go to our Seminars page for more information.
To find out specific information for parents of a ‘schoolie’ (or multiple ‘schoolies’), please visit the Info for Parents page.