Role Models for Teens
How parents’ drinking behaviour can influence their teenage children
It might surprise you but the research shows that parents are their kid’s number one role models. You have the greatest impact on shaping your children’s attitudes to alcohol and future drinking behaviour.
It is important that parents set the right example for their teens and attitudes towards alcohol, having boundaries for drinking moderately and demonstrating a healthy respect for alcohol. Your teen will be looking to you as a parent, as well as other role models, and observing your drinking behaviour as to what is right or wrong when it comes to alcohol.
The research is telling us that the average Australian starts drinking alcohol at 15.5 years of age.
As parents you need to be prepared to be challenged by your teen about your own drinking behaviours with alcohol and their desire to be treated like an adult, which may mean drinking alcohol at home with you, taking alcohol to parties or drinking alcohol with their friends.
- No more hangovers: Lead by example. If you do not want your child to drink to excess, demonstrate responsible drinking behaviours and plan ahead – prevention is better than cure.
- Limit the amount you consume. This will reduce your chances of long-term detrimental health outcomes and help display the importance of self-restraint and control for your children.
- Don’t make alcohol the focus. Try not to make every family gathering or celebration focus around alcohol. Make a point of having alcohol-free barbeques to demonstrate to your children that you can enjoy yourself without alcohol.
- Change your game. If you’ve had a fairly relaxed attitude to alcohol when the kids were younger, change your game and talk to your family and friends about changing theirs when in the company of your kids, but don’t ask anything of friends that you wouldn’t do yourself.
- Be honest. One question that will inevitably arise at some point during the teen years is whether you’ve ever been drunk. Be upfront and honest – you would want them to be with you. Admit that you’ve learnt a lesson or two and that you will expect your kids, your friends and yourself to act responsibly at all times.
- Remember the DrinkWise Parents 5-Point Plan. Parents play a crucial role in shaping their child’s attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol. These simple tips provides practical advice on how to be a positive influence and decrease the risk of your teen misusing alcohol:
Þ Talk to your teen
Þ Educate by example
Þ Engage in their life
Þ Nurture the relationship
Þ Set clear boundaries
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have problems with alcohol, recognising your own difficulties and seeking help will make coping with your teenager’s issues much easier. You can’t help anyone, unless you can help yourself.