I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking program. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
As a parent we have the greatest influence on our teen’s choices, according to MJ Corcoran, Parenting Coach. But to be able to have that positive influence, we have to keep the communication open between our teen and ourselves. As a mother of 3 and a parent educator, here are some tips that have worked for me for talking with your teen and having a real conversation about underage drinking or any topic.
I’m proud to have been selected as an Anheuser-Busch Family Talk About Drinking Ambassador. My parenting goal has always been to raise my children to be responsible, contributing citizens and keep my children safe. The Family Talk About Drinking (FTAD) program provides great resources for parents to be able to do just that. You can download your own copy of the Parent Guide and learn more on the FTAD Facebook Page.
My oldest daughter went to her senior prom last week and came home happy and safe (whew!). She’s now facing her own graduation party and all the parties of her friends. I have made special efforts all her life to maintain a strong line of communication with her (and my other children).
Tips for Talking with Your Teen
Spend 1-on-1 time with your child – With 3 children and an active duty military husband, it’s often difficult to find alone time to talk with each of my children. But no matter how difficult it has been, I have always made it a priority. Sometimes I take my daughter out on a special trip or date to do something that she would like to do, just the two of us. Making face and skin care items together, like DIY Brown Sugar Lip Scrub, is always fun. Sometimes life is too busy and funds are too tight, so I take my daughter with me to run errands and make the most of that time together. Other times all I can make happen is to spend some time cuddling and talking with her before she goes to bed. Do whatever works best for you, just make sure that you do spend that 1-on-1 time with your child.
Spend family time together – In addition to spending one-on-one time with my teen, we schedule family activities together to build a strong family bond. Sometimes spending family time with teens can be more challenging, so these games for teens are my go-to list for fun ideas for family time.
Take advantage of opportunities to talk – Prom and graduation season provide the perfect lead-ins to talk with your teen about underage drinking or other teen issues. An incident that occurs at school or in your community can provide the springboard to discuss other difficult issues with your child. Use these opportunities to talk with, not at your child.
Be interested in your child and their opinions – Ask, “What’s it like to be a teen today?” or “How do you think being a teen is different for you than it was for me?” I’ve had some great conversations with my daughters when I’ve asked that question. I’ve asked my son, “How do you think it’s different for you being a boy in ___grade than it was for me as a girl?” Again, some great conversations were started with one simple question.
Do more listening than talking – Most likely you and your child are more accustomed to you doing most of the talking, but if you want to have a real conversation with your child, make the concentrated effort to listen more than you talk. Ask your child open-ended questions and then listen to what they tell you, really listen. Ask follow-on questions rather than lecturing. You don’t have to fill the silence with mom (or dad) talk, silence is okay (this is my personal struggle). Use your body language to show your child that you’re listening and accepting what they’re telling you so that you don’t shut them down with your nonverbals.
Remember you are the parent– The goal of having a real conversation with your child is not to be their “friend.” You are the parent. The goal is to use the stages of parenting to help guide your child’s choices and decisions. You want to help your child learn and strengthen the skills necessary for good decision-making for the rest of her life. In the end, when appropriate, clearly state your family expectations and rules.
I had the opportunity to interview the FTAD parenting coach MJ Corcoran about ways that parents can connect and talk with their children about underage drinking. She stressed how important it is to keep an open mind when talking with your children and to be honest with them. She also advised that texting when your teen is at a prom or graduation party isn’t enough. Check in with an old-fashioned phone call to encourage greater accountability. MJ shared these tips to having a REAL conversation with your teen.
R – Realize that your child needs to have a connection with you.
E – Examine your own assumptions and prejudices.
A – Always be aware of the other influences in your child’s life.
L – Listen, because all children (especially teens) have a deep need to be heard.
To help you start your next real talk with your child, Anheuser-Busch’s Family Talk About Drinking is providing me with a $25 Visa gift card to giveaway. You can use this gift card towards spending quality time with your child and to jumpstart a real conversation with your teen prior to prom, graduation and high school parties.
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