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Prom. Oh, those were the days. The excitement surrounding who you were going to ask or who was going to ask you , finding the perfect dress or just the right colored tie, and getting all dressed up and enjoying strutting your stuff at the promenade.
But what about all the other decisions that evening, especially those concerning events before and after prom? Am I going to the party where I know alcohol will be present? Do I partake in the drinking festivities? What will I do if I don’t go to the party? How will my parents react if I get caught drinking? It’s very likely that this last question may not even go through a teenager’s litany of thoughts. Unless, of course, the crucial conversation has already taken place and clear expectations have been set — clear expectations, such as:
- Persons under age 21 will not drink alcohol.
- Do not ride in a car with someone that has been drinking or using drugs.
- Persons under age 21 will not host parties at our home without parental supervision, and at no time will alcohol be served to individuals under age 21.
- Your child must make you aware of who they are with and where they are at for the evening. If the group plans to leave, a phone call to a parent or guardian is necessary.
- Do not stay at a party where alcohol or drugs are present.
Research shows that parents play a key role in how a teenager responds to these situations involving alcohol. Kids who learn about the risks of alcohol and drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use, and two out of three kids ages 13-17 say that losing their parents’ respect is one of the main reasons they don’t drink alcohol, smoke marijuana or use other drugs. Perceived risk and social acceptance are other factors involved in the decision whether to use drugs or alcohol. Parents, other caring adults and older siblings can have a significant influence on the decisions that are made. By being a healthy role model, you can set a positive example and help the evening also be a positive and memorable event.
Don’t be afraid to be the “tough” parent, giving your child permission to use you as a good reason to not drink. Connect with your child’s friends, get to know them and what expectations have been discussed with them about alcohol use. Make connections with other parents, too. When talking with the other parents, outline what you have discussed with your child to ensure you are providing a consistent message to your child’s peer group.
Enjoy the excitement of prom without the use of alcohol.
Research shows that parents play a key role in how a teenager responds to situations involving alcohol. Parents should have a crucial conversation with their teens and set clear expectations.
By Mayo Clinic Health System chemical dependency treatment staff