Parenting, while a great honor, is a tremendous responsibility. As parents, we are tasked with both protecting our children and teaching them to fend for themselves. It’s an incredibly delicate balance — the execution of which tends to spark a great deal of debate.
There isn’t one perfect way to raise a child. And because of that, we must be open to adapt with our children, rather than exclude them from that shared growth. This becomes especially important when our children do things that disappoint us. On that note, we are here to discuss appropriate consequences for teenage drinking.
Keep it cool
Here’s the deal — children revolt to prove a point. It’s the kind of defiance that can rear its head in many ways. The key to navigating these difficult experiences is to keep a cool head. It may sound ridiculous to check your own behavior in the face of your child’s defiance, but it can be the gambit in securing a win. If your child comes home drunk, you have a choice to make about your approach. Try the following:
- Gather yourself in private before approaching your child. Ask yourself why you are angry and contemplate how you can communicate these thoughts.
- Speak calmly and rationally about your feelings.
- Take care of your child and stay near them until they are sober.
- When the moment is right, and your child has recovered, open up a dialogue about the experience and the consequences.
It is vital in these moments to avoid loud, angry yelling. Not only will you scare your child, but you may inadvertently drive a wedge between you and their willingness to trust. Most importantly, do not kick your child of the house. You will be putting their safety at risk.
Know when they’ve had too much
Kids who experiment with alcohol often walk a thin line between “just enough” and way overboard. If your child appears to be drunk, you may have to wait and assess the situation. They may need immediate medical attention if it becomes apparent that they are suffering from alcohol poisoning. Look for the following signs that signal a problem:
- Inability to speak
- Excessive vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Visible injuries
It might seem like sending your kid to bed is the best option, but be very cautious. Drunk people, especially young teens and adolescents, run the risk of falling asleep in a compromising position. If you suspect that your child is severely intoxicated, it is in your best interest to stay awake with them. Make sure they are in a safe position, so they avoid the risk of asphyxiation, or choking on their vomit.
How to handle teenage drinking
You may be disappointed that your child is drunk. You may even be furious. You are completely within your rights as a parent to feel these things, which is why it is so important to experience them in private. Do not suppress these emotions completely. Just set them aside and deal with the task at hand.
Once your child is safe enough to put to bed, you will have time to relax and consider your options. Ask yourself how you want to have this conversation. Do you want to bring up your values? Or do you want to focus more on the law? Do you want to take away their social privileges? Or do you want to allow them to keep their freedom with different restrictions? Whichever path you choose, consider the following talking points:
- Underage drinking is against the law. It’s worth the reminder because the consequences for getting caught can derail future social and academic plans.
- Underage drinking is very unsafe because teens often overshoot their limits.
- You can very easily choke on your vomit when you’ve had too much to drink.
- Underage drinking often coincides with driving under the influence. This offense carries numerous consequences and can cost lives.
- You have the rest of your life to drink, once you are legal. There’s no need to rush.
Does your child have a problem with drinking? Check out our services. Our comprehensive programs and talented staff are here to help.