Drinking and driving is irresponsible, dangerous, and sometimes deadly. This means it is essential to talk to your teen about drinking and driving so you can work together to prevent it.
Follow these steps to have a successful conversation with your teen.
Know the facts
Before you attempt to talk to your teen about drinking and driving, make sure you know the facts.
Some facts will help you understand what your teen is going though, while others are things you can share with them to help them make good decisions.
The brain doesn’t fully resemble an adult brain until the early 20s. Studies have concluded that: “The parts of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature.”
This means that in teens, the emotional part of their brain is fully online while the part of their brain that keeps those emotions in check and regulates impulses is still developing.
Your teen’s brain can make it harder to make wise decisions, no matter how well they’ve been taught. Don’t be condescending, but make sure you and your teen know about this disadvantage.
Other facts to remember include:
- Teens who have ridden with an impaired driver are more likely to drive while impaired themselves.
- People who begin drinking before age 15 are more likely to develop alcohol dependence later in life.
- The legal consequences of drinking and driving are severe and the laws are complex. (Source: The Defence Lawyer)
Be someone your teenager can trust and rely on in a difficult situation. Some things that will help you establish trust include:
- Always be honest with your teen.
- If your teen hasn’t broken your trust, treat them accordingly. Don’t assume the worst—expect the best. If they know you trust them, they will be more likely to trust you.
- Talk to your teen regularly. If every conversation you have with your teen is a formal discussion or interrogation, they won’t be comfortable sharing their lives with you or asking for help. Talk to them about their activities and interests, and share some of your own interests with them.
- Make your home a place where they feel comfortable bringing their friends. Have activities available that appeal to teens and don’t hover when they have friends over.
- Set a good example. If you expect your teen to never drink and drive, hold yourself to the same standard. When you do drink, be responsible, and make sure your teen understands why it is okay for adults to drink in moderation even though teens cannot.
Make a plan
If your teenager finds themselves in a bad situation, they should know they have options. As you talk with your teen, make a plan for likely scenarios. Use the following questions to make a plan:
- How will your teen get home if their ride has been drinking? Do they have access to a phone to call you or money for a taxi? Plan ahead of time so they have options to get home safely and prevent their less responsible friends from making reckless mistakes.
- How can your teen politely refuse alcohol without losing face? Arm your teen with information, planned responses, and the confidence to be a leader when the peer pressure gets rough.
- Can they call you for help without fearing chastisement? Some parents have instituted a “no questions asked” policy. This strategy may not be best for all families, but if your teen isn’t afraid of getting in big trouble with you, they may be more likely to call you after they caved to peer pressure and had a drink instead of trying to drive home.
Take the time to discuss a plan of action with your teen so they know exactly what to do when they find themselves in a dangerous environment. If they already know what to do in a difficult scenario, they will be less likely to make a risky decision.
Follow these steps to talk to your teen about drinking and driving. You will improve your relationship and you could save some lives.
Consider acquiring the services of a reputable DUI defence lawyer, if you or someone you know has been convicted of a DUI.
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