5 smart-parent tricks for parents of (wanting to drink too soon) teens!

Home after the party

Have a family rule that your teen always has to come home after a party. Facing Mum and Dad, in an inebriated state, is far less tempting than sneaking into a bed at their friend’s place (remembering that when parents have a group of teens over to stay, they often tend to give them more freedom and personal space than they would with younger children).

Say ‘no’ to some things

It pays to say ‘no’ to some of the gazillion event requests your social teen will make. Before you know it, they are out all weekend to this and that, and you feel a bit like you’ve lost your grip on any control at all. If you can teach your teen that he can’t go to everything, it will a) make them realise that it’s not an expected ‘yes’ to everything, b) help them cope with a ‘no’ without a massive meltdown or teenage tantrum, c) show them how missing out on some of the social events their friends go to doesn’t ostracise them from the group, and d) understand that even one late night out can leave their family dealing with one very grumpy and tired teen who won’t perform as well as they should or could at school.

Build a supportive network of parents

Get to know your kid’s friends’ parents by inviting them for coffee either side of drop-offs, having a family dinner with their family or simply picking up the phone. This will give you an idea if you are all on the same page, and if you are, you can keep an open dialogue when kids want to go to parties, have sleepovers, go to concerts or festivals. If you all agree on similar rules around alcohol, sleep, school and social media, life will be a lot easier. If not, then at least you know who you don’t want looking after your teen when you’re not around!

Talk talk talk

Always tell your teen what your expectations are (and why), and what the consequences will be if they don’t follow the rules. Some teens might need a few skills in how to deal with peer pressure and feeling confident living by their own family rules (when at a party, for example). Give them the trust they deserve, and if they blow it, tighten up a bit, and let them earn it back. Never stop talking to them, and remember that you’ll need to say it more than once (teens have a clever knack of forgetting, misinterpreting and blanking).

Have targets

Create something for everyone to work towards if their behaviour is good. A weekend away fishing or vintage clothes shopping, rent or borrow a bach and take a few teens away together, take your teens and their friends camping. Find their passion, and create a truly exciting adventure to look forward to, on the proviso (of course) that they work hard and follow the family rules.

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