I’m passionate about spreading the word and awareness about issues that are very near and dear to my heart. I was beyond honored when Responsibility.org reached out to me, asking me to partner with them again on their impactful and incredible Ask Listen Learn program, which helps parents talk with their kids about underage drinking.
Responsibility.org is such an unbelievable organization and I just love and stand by what they do. They are the longest-standing, most wide-spread alcohol education program of its kind. Believe it or not – Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix has reached over 62 million parents, kids and teachers since it began in 2004. That stat just makes me smile because it’s such a HUGE reach! The program really strives to start a conversation about why a healthy lifestyle is important, and why that healthy lifestyle doesn’t include underage drinking. In November 2016, a new set of classroom resources was published for teachers’ use in the school environment to help kids say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to underage drinking. I love that there really is this great incorporation of home life and school life, this is really important for kids, too.
The Tween Years are Prime Time to Talk About Underage Drinking
With 4 tweens at home (my daughter is just 3 years old), these conversations have already started. It’s important for me to be on top of my kids and make them aware NOW. What drew me initially to Responsibility.org is that they believe parents need to have ongoing conversations with their kids about being confident decision makers and keeping good friends that encourage positive decisions and talk to their kids about real ways to say NO to alcohol. It’s not an easy conversation to always have with your kids, but it’s a vital one. It’s a conversation that hopefully can impact their friends, too. Drinking underage does not make you cool and it’s something that I really have tried to teach my kids.
With summer right before us, it’s a wonderful time to engage in a conversation with your kids about underage drinking because there’s definitely an uptick of drinking in the summer. If you head to the beach, you might see people drinking. If you head to a neighborhood cookout/party, you might see people drinking. If you go to a baseball game, you might see people drinking. People are outside in the summer enjoying the weather, enjoying family and friends and (yes) potentially enjoying some drinks.
Here’s the BIG factor to teach our children… it’s adults who are indulging, not kids.
This is such a great opportunity to open up the conversation with your tweens because they will see it happening and it’s really important to distinguish the difference in why the adults are drinking and not the kids. We were just recently at a college graduation party where the graduates (all 21 and over) were drinking and I took this time to talk to my 2 oldest sons about drinking. I explained that these guys were drinking because they were old enough and they were being responsible. There weren’t any people under 21 years of age drinking and it was helpful to really have this party to talk about it. I know it’s not easy to start these conversations many times, so find those easy opportunities to open up the gate for a meaningful conversation. The good thing about the summer is that we are all in situations with our kids where we are relaxing and enjoying some “summer fun,” so we can really take this time to talk, answer questions and be open and honest. For me, it’s just really important for my kids to know that I’m here, as is my husband. I want them to feel they can come to us with anything, so starting to have open conversations now… I’m hoping this is a good way to let them know we’re here and we are in-the-know.
Take Opportunities to Talk About Underage Drinking Where you Find Them
I will say, sometimes the best conversations happen when you least expect them to happen. If you’re on the beach… camping… family road trip… enjoying pool time… working in the yard… out to dinner… sitting on your back deck… these are wonderful moments to take the time to talk. The summer really does give you options when it comes to opening up and talking about things that are important.
- Be honest
- Be open
- Let them know you’re here
- Ask them questions
- Keep the conversation lines open on both ends
And please remember, we, as parents and caregivers, can always rely on the Ask, Listen, Learn site as a resource to help empower us with advice and tips on how to handle hard questions and be prepared for these conversations. Ask, Listen, Learn has the resources for parents to be informed and talk with their kids about why drinking underage can have long-term and short-term consequences on a developing brain and body. Don’t think you’re alone in the process! And always know it’s an ongoing conversation.
As always, a HUGE thank you to Responsibility.org for the Ask, Listen Learn program. Let’s all be inspired by this and start the discussion of underage drinking this month with our tweens.
Disclosure: This is a partnership with Responsibility.org. All opinins are 100% my own.