I’ve been talking with my teen daughters a lot about the pressure for kids their age to drink. They’ve assured me that they and their friends just aren’t interested in alcohol. According to them, the pressure from peers is about NOT drinking.
It certainly was different for me in the 80s. If there was a party it was most likely unsupervised and included either a keg of beer or whatever vodka that one guy who had a mustache in high school could buy with his fake i.d.
I’m a rule-follower (especially when those rules are a law), and a worrier, so I mostly sowed tame oats in high school.
Still, because all parties had that pressure to drink, I came up with my own coping skills. As long as I had a red Solo cup in my hand, it didn’t matter if was sipping nothing but Sprite. An empty hand, though, was a signal for that good-natured teasing that is the hardest peer pressure to resist.
For me, the thing to avoid was being marked as prissy. Long explanations about why I didn’t want to drink was a one-way ticket to Priss-ville. I found the best response was a super-casual, “No thanks. I’m all set,” accompanied by a waggle my cup with whatever soft drink was in it.
I’m not sure if my coping skill was from practice, intuition, or good advice from my mom, but wherever it came from, it served me well. I do remember my first experience with a drink at a party was very negative, so after that I never let anyone serve me or pressure me to drink.
I hope my kids make good decisions about drinking, and have the tools they need to say no. Also, I hope I am one of their resources. We do talk about peer pressure and drinking. When we watch movies or tv together, very often the plot with provide a natural conversation starter.
So you can be a resource for you own kids, here are some places to go to get more information about this important topic. Don’t wait until they are 16 and headed out the door on a Friday night. Check out AskListenLearn for tons of resources for parents and kids.
Anthony Wolf, a clinical psychologist has these ideas:
What Else Can You Do?
Give her the information and support she needs to avoid it. Right now she’s developing her self-image and long-term habits, so you want her to feel positive about herself and make healthy choices.
Let her know she can talk to you about anything. When she does, try to Ask, Listen, Learn.
Give her lots of love and praise.
Plan family activities — read the Ask, Listen, Learn blog for fun ideas. Make sure she’s not left bored and unattended.
Encourage her to be healthy and active. Take part in sports, school clubs, and other extra-curricular activities.
- I’d say raising a teenager these days is hard, but I think it’s always been hard. Your child loves you, but needs to create her own, separate identity. Part of this is becoming more peer-focused. It can hurt when some random ninth-grader has more influence over your kid than you do, but it’s normal and all part of her becoming an adult. Hang in there!