When the news highlights stories of young celebrities getting arrested for drinking under the influence, as a parent you immediately cringe. You shake your head at the irresponsible celeb , and most likely at the parent… Then you ask yourself: Have I instilled enough wisdom in my teenager about the dangers of drinking and driving? Sadly, despite many efforts to educate, and deter, people from drunk driving, there are still those individuals out there who take the risk; and, all it takes is for that one bad decision to wreck a couple of lives. We need to give our teen all the necessary information to prevent her from making that one bad decision. However, this is sometimes a difficult, and maybe a complicated one for the parent. What’s the best way to approach the subject?
Connect with your teen.
Building a strong relationship with your teen is essential to influencing her way of thinking. Teens hear and take into heart their parents’ advice, even though it may not seem that way. To get down this path, the parent needs to create a line of trust between her and her teen. This means, really taking the time to listen to your child. Parents say they do listen, but with hectic schedules (work, home keep, activities), parents actually prefer to say “We’ll discuss that later” to their kids, or “Let’s do that after I finish doing this.” We prioritize our other responsibilities, and miss out on the opportunity to have a conversation with our teenager. If we want our advice to be taken, we need to earn that right. People are more willing to listen in a platform that treats them fair. Once this foundation is established, you can move on to presenting the facts about drinking and driving.
Gather evidence prior to your conversation on drinking and driving.
These facts are attainable at local community centers, or the MADD website. The statistics are based on sound research. You may want to point out the stats concerning alcohol’s relationship with teen deaths; provide testimonies of teens who were victims of drunk driving; educate her with the legal consequences if charged with a DUI. Present these facts to your child, but be aware of your approach. Overwhelming her with statistics may just cause her to lose interest. Instead, pick a limited amount of data; preferably, ones that apply to her, or are relevant to her.
Do Not Accept Excuses.
Truth is, teens are at the stage where they are still discovering their self-worth. They are at the stage of experimentation. They experience heavy social pressure. Nevertheless, parents should avoid using those as an excuse for any reckless or bad decision their teen makes. In fact, those reasons are why parents need to be heavily involved in their teen’s life. We need to show our children that we are physically and emotionally there for them. We need to be the beacon of knowledge, which means we need to educate ourselves with any issues, trends, or subjects surrounding today’s teens. We need to help our teenagers feel confident about saying no to their peers; especially if they are being pressured into a dangerous situation.
Jennifer is a writer at The Law Offices of Gregory R. Terra, a criminal defense law firm located in Georgetown, Texas. Jennifer remembers her talk with her parents about drinking and driving.