Dangers of alcohol
DEALING WITH A drunken teenager is one of the many nightmares most parent dread dealing with. The reality is that this “dark monster” exists and cannot be brushed aside. As parents, you love your children, you trust them and you expect them to show you some respect and follow the rules set out in your home but, realistically, all children do not.
At some point in their teenaged life they experiment with alcohol, an actuality that most parents are in denial about. To the teenager it is a part of growing up, becoming adult and testing boundaries.
Teenagers need to understand that alcohol can change the direction of their life forever, be it physically, emotionally or behaviourally. It can weaken their ability to concentrate and retain information as well as impair their judgment, leading to risky decision-making that could involve illicit sexual behaviours. Females in particular need to understand that when drunk it is too easy to end up having unprotected sex, exposing themselves to all forms of sexually-transmitted diseases.
There are many reactions parents experience when they discover that their young adults betrayed the trust they placed in them and became drunk. The first thing to go through the mind is that they have failed as a parent. Never think that. Remember, adolescents are at the age where their peers have strong influences on their lives and they are willing to experiment.Advice for Parents
Communicate: Keep communication open. Do not let anger get the better of you. Wait until your child sobers up and let your anger fade. You will be more calm and rational and your teenager may be more likely to accept what you have to say. Find out what is going on: If this is just part of a pattern of behaviour, you need to find out what is happening with your teenager to lead to this occurring. Let them know you are always there for them.
Create consequences and set clear boundaries. It must be made very clear that there are consequences for their actions and that teenagers must act responsibility. Give realistic consequences. Grounding is usually one punishment used but should not be given out of anger. Think about it first and then give the punishment.
Educate. Explain your concerns about their drinking. Tell them about the range of risks involved and your concerns about their physical, psychological and social health. They may not agree with your views on the matter but they need to understand why you have created the rules that exist in your home. Teach them about the dangers of alcohol.
Seek professional help: If you believe you cannot handle the alcoholic consumption of your child on your own, seek professional help. You could talk to the school counsellor, pastor, or a psychologist.As parents, you cannot be “watchdogs” or babysit your children all their lives but you can teach them to be responsible and act responsibly.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former President of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.