Family Talk About Drinking, in partnership with parent coach MJ Corcoran, provides support, tools and insights for parents aiming to develop stronger relationships with their children and prevent underage drinking. This mission is especially important around prom and graduation season, when teens may encounter more opportunities and peer pressure to drink underage.
Parents can help their teens prepare for prom and graduation season by building and reinforcing the trust they have with their teens, establishing expectations beforehand and most importantly, maintaining open lines of communication about their teens’ plans.
Communication with your teens can come in all forms. Face-to-face conversations, Facebook messages and even Snaps can be part of these strategies. Every parent-teen relationship is different, and there’s no right or wrong way to talk with your teens.
To help build trust and determine the best ways to approach conversations about prom and graduation with your teens, consider a mix of these communication strategies and tips:
1. Face-to-face communication.
Depending on your teens’ communication preferences, make time to have a conversation face-to-face about their prom and graduation plans. When talking with your teens, be honest about your feelings and match their stance - sit if they’re sitting, stand if they’re standing. Recognition that they’re listening is important, but eye contact can actually be intimidating to teens and make them feel frustrated. This can be a difficult topic for both parents and teens, so be approachable and encourage a two-way conversation where your teens are free to share their thoughts and concerns. Asking open-ended questions is a great way to foster conversation and build trust.
2. The power of place.
You may be surprised that some of best and most realistic opportunities for serious conversations with your teens are found in seemingly unconventional circumstances. Places that create one-on-one time and have minimal distraction, like on a long car ride or a hike, are great examples. Approach the conversation with a plan, and make sure you and your spouse or partner are united and consistent in your messaging. Start on a light note and invite your teens to talk about the details for upcoming events like prom and graduation, and slowly move toward more serious topics like underage drinking prevention.
3. Communication variety.
Do your teens spend more time in front of a screen than anything else? Rest assured – there’s nothing wrong with having serious conversations with your teens using their preferred mediums, like through text, messaging apps or social media. Connect with your teens in the ways that are most natural and comfortable for them, which will help build your connection and ensure they’re understanding your expectations about underage drinking prevention.
Regardless of communication strategies, check for clarity. What you say and what your teens hear can sometimes be two different things. Ask your teens to articulate their plans in their own words to ensure everyone is on the same page. This clarity will help build your and your teens’ confidence that they are prepared to handle any challenging situation.
For more information on how to build trust and start conversations about underage drinking prevention with your teens, visit the Coaching portion of our website.
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