Parents of teens find that they are often placed in situations that make them uncomfortable. Certain topics make parents queasy to talk about, regardless of how important the subject matter. Perhaps it is normal to not want to admit your children are old enough to discuss a topic, or maybe you just don’t want them to think you are overbearing or uncool.
Whatever the case, the subject is still crucial to discuss if you want them to understand the importance of the topic. One of these topics that give parents cause to shudder is drinking and driving. For most parents, the thought of their teen driving is scary enough; the thought of them driving under the influence is unbearable. It is for this very reason that you, as a parent, must overcome the fear of talking to your teen about the subject and address it as soon as possible.
Research the Internet and Share Your Findings
Scanning the Internet for DUI related tragedies involving teens is sadly too easy to accomplish. There are stories from around the country that are relevant to this issue on an almost daily basis. Find an article that is applicable and bring it up to your child to discuss. As you talk about the event, it will lead to the conversation on why drinking and driving is wrong.
Use a Video or Other Resources
There are many videos available that discuss the impact that drinking and driving has on teenagers. While this may give your teen a reason to sigh, it will also present an opportunity for them to talk to you about the how they feel about the problem. In addition, you can utilize other unconventional resources that might hit closer to home; such as a DUI attorney, funeral director, or emergency room nurse. All of these individuals can share first hand accounts of teen DUI tragedies.
Driving Rules for Your Home
You can begin with a light matter, such as when your teen has access to the family car. This can easily lead into the topic of drinking and driving. Use this time to ask your teen what they know about the subject, or how they feel about someone driving under the influence. In most cases you will be surprised and pleased with the answer In addition, it can also provide an opportunity to get feedback from your kids regarding what rules they feel are acceptable, as well. However, if your teen believes a rule to be unfair or too childish, they are more inclined to break it.
With this said, providing an open forum can make way for a more compatible plan for your family.
Another topic for house rules can include what to do when there’s drinking at a party. Make it easy for your teen to avoid drinking and driving or leaving with a driver that is under the influence. Let them know that you will come get them, regardless and without punishment, if they promise to avoid being in a car with someone intoxicated or driving drunk.
What are Their Friends Saying?
As a parent, you have spent countless hours telling your young children not to relent to peer pressure. As the parent of a teen, you will probably have to double the amount of time on this subject. Allow them to share how their friends feel about drinking and driving as a way to gauge how they may honestly feel about the topic, as well as what influences they may be subjected to most.
In the end, it is a thin line between being your child’s parent and friend. However, it is important for parents to overcome their fears of pushing them away or sounding too overbearing. Your teen still needs your guidance, perhaps now more than ever. They need to know you love them enough to talk to them about uncomfortable topics. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and mother of three teens and a mentor for at-risk teenagers. Steve E. Kellis is a Pennsylvania dui attorney who practices law because he believes that every citizen deserves the best possible defense when they are accused of a crime. An appropriate defense for a teenager should include retesting the blood by an independent lab to prove that the driver’s blood alcohol content was actually less than the legal limit when they were behind the wheel.
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