When I was in high school my parents were not the "cool" parents.
Once I was hanging out at the mall with my friends and we decided to leave and walk down the street for a few blocks. When I told my mom we had left, she demanded that she pick me up immediately because it was a change of plans and she wasn’t comfortable with it!
It was embarrassing and it abruptly ended a fun day with my friends. All this because I had been honest!
Can you guess how careful I was when I had my first conversation with my parents about drinking? All I saw was a conversational minefield. One wrong step and BOOM! I’d be locked in my room with a padlock until they let me out for college.
Thankfully I was able to maneuver the conversation in a way that didn’t freak out my parents and leave me in shackles. Here are a few things I did that may be useful to you.
1. Promise to call if you feel out of control.
Your parents are worried about you drinking (or doing drugs) because they care about you. They don’t want you to crash the car, get alcohol poisoning, get arrested, or harm yourself or others.
You can’t blame them. You are their world. But you can keep yourself safe and put your parents at ease by promising to call them if you are intoxicated, especially if you feel pressured to drive. And in exchange, it seems fair that they promise that you won’t get in trouble for calling them.
Having an agreement like this works well for both you and your parents. It will keep you safe and that’s what matters most to everyone. But you have to uphold your part of the bargain.
2. Discuss peer pressure.
When you’re in high school, the focus is often on fitting in. I know that at times the pressure can be very strong and challenging to fight.
I wasn’t in the habit of doing dangerous things to look cool, but many friends of mine got in big trouble for following the crowd when they knew they shouldn’t have.
Your parents know the negative effects peer pressure has on decision-making. It’s important to bring up this subject with them so that they understand you won’t be swayed if a friend brings alcohol to a party.
Give your parents examples from the past when you avoided doing something you knew was dangerous even though everyone else took part. Explain how you will respond when a friend coaxes you to drink but you know you shouldn’t.
Explain that you are able to make your own decisions and that you have a plan for avoiding peer pressure when it arises. This will go a long way to alleviating your parents’ stress surrounding alcohol.
3. Be trustworthy in other areas of your life first.
This comes back to being an all-around responsible individual who deserves to be trusted. Can your parents actually believe you will make the right decisions with a little ethanol in your veins?
When your parents give you $40 to pay the pizza delivery guy, do you stuff a few bills into your pocket before bringing back the change?
When you say you’ll be there at 6 p.m., do you a show up at 7:30 and make your mom wait in the car?
The best way to show your parents that you can be responsible around alcohol is to be responsible in the other areas of your life. If they know you’re a good kid with a good head on your shoulders, they’re much more likely to believe you when you tell them you will be responsible for the safety of yourself and your friends.