Even if parents have been inconsistent in the past, it's never too late for them to re-establish clear boundaries with their teens about underage drinking. It may be challenging, but setting and enforcing clear rules about underage drinking will help teens make safe and responsible decisions about alcohol. Here are four simple steps to help parents set or reset expectations with their teens.
Clearly define what decision is being made.
- “If you choose to drink before you are 21…”
Make them reasonable, respectful, and accountable.
- “…here is what you can expect: [consequences]”
- “…here are the privileges you will lose, and for how long: [consequences]”
- “…this will happen after you've made your decision: [consequence]”
Check for Understanding
Verify that they understand the conversation.
- Ask your teen to explain the limits.
- Create scenarios to make sure they are on the same page.
- Summarize rules and consequences at the end of the conversation.
Don’t change expectations or rules once they are set.
- Do not allow special occasions to create special rules.
- Make sure every rule applies to everyone.
- Give equal consequences or praise depending on their decisions.