Teenagers and alcohol: Are you drinkaware?

Teenagers drink. I know that. But, when it comes to my own 14 year old son, I must admit to burying my head in the sand. Because my son won’t drink, will he?

A recent post by fellow blogger Emma from Emmaand3 got me thinking – he’s actually getting to the age where he might start drinking. Undoubtedly there will be some of his friends and schoolmates who already are drinking regularly – preferably small amounts at home with their parents, but maybe larger amounts in the park or at parties.

Teenagers, Alcohol, Drinkaware

When it comes to alcohol, I’m unusual. I’m a lifelong teetotaller, which means I’m far more anti-drinking than the average parent. My parents are teetotal and so is my sister. (We’re not religious, we’re not reformed alcoholics, we just don’t like drinking and never have.) In our family, there’s only my husband and my brother who drink.

I know A LOT of information about drink and it’s enough to put me off. In fact it has put me off for a whole lifetime – everything from hangovers and vomiting to increased chances of accidents and becoming a victim of crime. It all scares me and it all makes me not want to drink. (For anyone who thinks I’m weird, you genuinely don’t miss what you’ve never had.)

Alcohol, Teenagers, Drinkaware, Parenting

But I can’t rely on my own kids choosing the same path as me. They have to make their own decisions when the time comes. And when it does come, I want them to be well-informed and make sensible choices which will keep them safe.

As far as I’m aware, my 14 year old son has never had a drink, but I can’t be sure. He has certainly never been drunk. He likes to joke about wanting to drink Jack Daniels, but considering all he drinks is water or milk (he doesn’t like squash, juice or fizzy drinks), I’m hoping that it will be a very long time before he actually does drink whiskey!

In order to tackle harm from underage drinking, Drinkaware aims to encourage parents to proactively talk to their children about the risks of alcohol. And nobody needs it more than a parent who has never had a drink herself!

PicMonkey alcoholCollage, Drinkaware, Drinking, Alcohol, Teenagers

Drinkaware has created two new resources to help parents in having these conversations:

  • A Your Kids and Alcohol leaflet offering parents advice and tips to take the right approach
  • An interactive quiz for children to help them learn about the risks associated with underage drinking.

The resources are easy to read and easy to use and don’t overload either teenagers or parents with too much information. They’re the perfect way for starting that difficult conversation with teenage sons and daughters.

The booklet doesn’t recommend talking about everything in one go. It gives advice for conversations to have right from the age of 8. It’s never too early to start talking about alcohol, but if your child is 15 or 16 and you still haven’t discussed it, it’s not too late to catch up either!

My own son thinks he knows it all (as teenagers always do). They have certainly covered a lot of this information at school, but the message from home is always a powerful one. Taking the time to talk to teenager and share the materials from Drinkaware will reinforce what they’ve learned in school.

The interactive quiz is a great way of checking their understanding. Teenagers will realise that alcohol can make them drunk, but do they know it can affect their school work, give them spots or make them put on weight? These things might concern them more than the effects of being drunk, which may appear to be ‘a good laugh’.

With alcohol, as with so many other things teenagers do, they are often pushing the boundaries and trying to prove they’re grown up. Risky behaviour is higher in puberty as the teenage brain develops. Adding alcohol into the mix can be a very dangerous combination.

Road accidents, a criminal record or an unwanted pregnancy are all very real possibilities for teenagers who are drinking. Take the time to talk to your children about safe drinking before it’s too late.

Both resources can be ordered at https://resources.drinkaware.co.uk/products

This post was written in partnership with Drinkaware. All opinions are my own.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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21 Comments

  1. What a brilliant resource, thanks for directing us to it. Like all these topics I guess it’s about being open, discussing and informing our children. Not easy this parenting lark is it?!!

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    • It certainly isn’t! It’s always hardest with the first one too, but I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable with the situation now.

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  2. I don’t drink either and am a bit scared of alcohol tbh for various reasons. I need a more level approach before my kids get to this stage i know.

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    • Glad to hear that someone else doesn’t drink and is scared of it! I would definitely recommend these materials – they’re easy to use and are not preachy or judgemental, but they tell it how it is!

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  3. I don’t drink either and some drunk people can make me slightly nervous, although the majority are funny. I’ve heard of drinkaware and they have some useful info on there! I think I probably need a good read of it, I never thought it would apply to me before having kids.

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    • Drunk people make me slightly nervous too! I will always leave a situation before people get too drunk. It’s definitely worth checking out Drinkaware when Z gets a bit older so you’re prepared!

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  4. Great post, we need to talk to our children about this before they find out for themselves. When I was in the police I would confiscate alcohol and it worried me the lengths some of them had got hold of it. I would tell them and my own children that if they were in a group of underage drinkers even if they weren’t drinking they would be deemed to be drinking by association. I hope I have educated my children sufficiently.

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    • That’s a very important point that I hadn’t even considered! My son would never be the ringleader, but could get caught up in a situation because he will follow the people he thinks are cool/ funny.

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  5. We’ve had this talk already as my 13 year old told me that she knew a party she was invited to would have alcohol there. I was shocked and told her I’m sure that wasn’t true but decided not to let her go just in case. The Instagram photos that night showed that some kids were drinking so I’m glad she was honest and told me!

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    • Very sensible to say she couldn’t go! I would be shocked if there was alcohol at a 13 year old’s party. Of course it’s to be expected at around 16, but I’d still like to think my kids wouldn’t drink.

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  6. It’s very rare I have a drink but my husband will have wine sometimes. We have talked to our 15 yo son about drinking and he’s been to a few parties where there has been alcohol, but he and a few of his friends are comfortable enough to say no. I have told him never to be afraid to tell us if he does drink.

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    • That sounds like a really sensible approach! My husband has literally a couple of drinks a week, so my kids have seen sensible drinking. I know my son would say no if his friends did, but suspect he would follow them if they all said yes!

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  7. I kind of didn’t want to read this post, and yet I knew I had to having a 13 year old. At my sons age I was going to the park of a weekend and getting drunk. Even writing that down makes it SO bad when you have a child of the same age. I very rarely drink in the house, and husband will have a few beers at the weekend. Son has tried a sip of his beer and said it tasted horrible (yep keep that thought son). Like you said teenagers will drink as its part of growing up. We just have to deal with it in a sensible manner. Parenting certainly gets harder the older they get. Can we just agree to lock them in a cupboard for the next 10 years ? Thanks for sharing Sarah xx

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    • I like the idea of locking them up 😉 It’s scary thinking back to when you were the same age as your kids and knowing what you were like!
      Here’s hoping you son dislikes the taste of the beer for a lot longer yet! x

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  8. I’m a teetotaller too, although I’ve had my share of alcohol in the past but now I won’t touch a drop. I think it’s important for teenagers to be aware of the facts regarding alcohol and that they understand it’s not a taboo subject and they can openly talk to their parents about it

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    • That’s so very true! The worst thing would be for them to see it as forbidden fruit and hide that they were drinking, far better to talk to them honestly about it.
      Good to hear you’re teetotal too 🙂

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  9. Thanks for the mention and it is such an important topic. I think there is no ‘right’ way but having the conversations is definitely the right thing.

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    • It definitely is! We all need to keep the dialogue going as our kids grow up.

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  10. What a brilliant resource. We do a lot of this at school and what we do do is kinda accept they are going to drink (as most people do underage) so we try and teach them the dangers of over drinking and things like that x

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    • That sounds very sensible! You’re never going to stop them drinking, but if they’re armed with the facts hopefully they will do it safely. x

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  11. I am dreading the day my children start to drink, but it’s great there is so much education around these days. x

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