Nov 23

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The Montcalm Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking is working with local pizza vendors to shine light on some of the difficulties alcohol is contributing to in the lives of our children.  In part one of this post we talked about some local data related to youth behaviors.  In part two we will look at —




Keeping in mind that most teens do not use alcohol and it is adults that set the standards of acceptable youth behaviors, there are things parents can do to help their children stay free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.  The post-it type notes on the pizza boxes identify five tips for parents with teens.


1) Set the ground rules.  Let your teen know what you expect. — Teens are exploring what life is all about including how and where they fit.  It is helpful to them to have clear expectations.  Discuss the expectations and why these are important.  Make sure the messages of love and respect get conveyed.  Also, talk with your teen about consequences of not following the expectations set forth.  If they are part of identifying the the expectations and consequences, they are more likely to be on board.  They also will not be able to say, they didn’t understand, if they do violate an expectation.  In short, they have a choice to a) act in agreement with the expectations or b) accept the consequences of not doing so.


2) Know where and with whom your teen is going. — Not only is this a courtesy one person offers another but it also provides your teen with a way to stay clear of situations he or she doesn’t want to participate with but is feeling pressure to go along with.  As such, it is also a safety item.  For one thing, if your teens friends know she or he must always call and check with you on plans that change at the last minute, he or she is less likely to get invited to troublesome situations.  On a second note, your teen has a ready excuse to not participate.  He or she will just call you and then tell his or her friends you said, “No”.  

At times a parent may have the teen say, “Don’t you trust me?!?”  We do trust them, we also trust they are teens, young and naive in some respects.  We also know there are those who will take advantage of such naivete’.  Additionally, if there is an emergency, it is important to know how to reach your teen.


3) Talk about how to handle possible situations.  Give your teen tools to use if he or she is offered alcohol, tobacco, pills or other drugs. — Even though most teens do not use these drugs, there is a high probability that someone in their group of friends will ask them to use.  Is your teen comfortable in saying, “No”?  If not, what tools can you help him or her gain?  It can be difficult to simply say, “No” in front of a goup of friends if the teen hasn’t thought and talked these scenerios through before hand.


4) Have a secret code word your teen can use that means “I am in a difficult situation and I need you to pick me up NOW.” — We cannot predict every situation.  Should something take place that makes your teen uncomfortable, give him or her an easy way out.  He or she doesn’t have to “sneek off” from friends and make a secret call.  A simple call to “check in” can be made, even in front of friends.  During the “check in” call, he or she can use the code word and you can play the heavy, taking the pressure of your teen.


5) Be up to greet your teen when he or she comes home. — This is a great tool for your teen.  He or she can always say, “No, I can’t, my parents will be up when I get home.”  If you can’t stay up until they get home, have them wake you up when they get in so you know they are safely home.


Even if your teen rebels against some of these, they also will know you care enough to know where they are, who they are with, to talk with them about situations you are concerned about and want to know when they get home.  Although these tips can be helpful, the true strength you offer your teen is simply that you are demonstrating your love through caring actions.


For more information or to be involved with MCPUD, call 989-831-4591.

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