Helpful Hints for Parents about Alcohol and other Substances
Given the fact that middle school is often a time of difficult transition for many students, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with our children. In terms of sharing information with your child, what and how much to share; prevention is always the best medicine. If you believe your child is experimenting with alchohol or drugs don’t wait, intervene.
It is important that you are familiar with the law in North Carolina. Alcohol is illegal to buy or possess if you are under 21. Share with your child and get the facts right. One 12- ounce beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5 ounce shot of whiskey or a 5-ounce glass of wine. Students are still looking to their parents to guide them during middle school.
Set the tone in your home by playing it safe. Tell your child that drinking can lead to intoxication and even death from alcohol poisoning. Do the smart thing by being part of the solution. Sweep away the myths that drinking only at home or sticking only to beer does not make drinking “okay” for underage students.
Below are some helpful hints for conversations with your children:
Listen for your child’s feelings. Name and validate them.
Watch for hints. Have you noticed a change in friendships, clothing, behavior? A child who hangs around usually wants to talk. Take the time to talk with your child.
Don’t contradict what you say by doing the opposite.
Be available, be open, and be willing to drop what you are doing in order to talk with your child about their concerns, hopes and dreams.
Ask questions about their social life. Who are you going with? Where are you going? Will there be an adult present? And, set the tone that you will contact the parent of the other student your child is visiting to make sure there will be an adult at home during the time the students are together, if possible.
Recognize that although it is extremely important for students to develop their “own voice” in terms of healthy decision making, it is still your job to guide them along the way. A hands-on approach is the best approach to take. Even when it is difficult to talk about hard topics like substance use and abuse, peer pressure and group dynamics during middle school.
As a parent, you owe it to yourself to become aware, take action, and advocate for your child the best you can. Sometimes, it is as simple as listening and asking open-ended questions.
Wishing all of you a safe and happy school year.