Action Steps for You, the Parent

Have the conversation. It’s important for you to initiate the conversation rather than wait for your son/daughter to bring it up.


We know it’s hard, but we know it’s worth the effort, so here are five quick tips to get started and break the ice.

  • Talk at a time that’s convenient for both of you.
  • Express your desire to hear your teen’s point of view.
  • Communicate your wish to relate to one another.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Establish your expectations for your teen and explain what the consequence will be for violating family rules.

To help during the conversation, here are some strategies.

  • Talk to your teens about the dangers of underage drinking and other drug use and about your worries.
  • Answer the questions they have.
  • Listen to what they have to say.

Use these simple strategies. Teens themselves say there are some simple things that parents can do to make it less likely they will drink alcohol.

  • Stay up at night until they return home.
  • Limit overnights with friends.
  • Call friends’ homes to make sure there will be parental supervision.
  • Establish and enforce rules.
  • Encourage positive risks – support your teens when they try out for a new team or take on a new extracurricular activity

Set fair boundaries and expectations, and follow through with consequences when necessary. Share and be clear about your expectations, and encourage your teens to do the same. Teens whose parents follow through on threatened consequences are significantly less likely to engage in risky behavior.

Know your children’s friends and their parents/caregivers. Stay connected to them, ask about them, and establish a relationship that you can fall back on when and if you need it.


Praise good choices. Recognize and praise good decisions that your teen makes about underage drinking and other drug use.


Not in your home. Clearly establish your home as a place where underage drinking and other drug use is not acceptable.  Many schools and communities create a list of homes where families pledge not to condone underage drinking.