Get the Conversation Going

Talking to Kids about Alcohol

Teaching children about alcohol and other drugs begins with teaching healthy habits. The conversation changes and becomes more specific as they get older. According to a national study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, nearly 98 percent of parents say they've talked with their children about drugs; however, only 27 percent of teens say they're learning a lot at home about the risks of drugs.

Parenting AdviceLearn more about teens today, about safeguarding and monitoring them and get some advice from Dr. Drew Pinsky and other experts.

Talking for the First TimeLearn more about how to start and what to say. Teach your kids how to turn down drugs. Learn how to answer the question, “Did you do drugs?”

Sample ConversationsHear some real examples of parents talking to their kids, including “But Dad, it’s only pot!” and “Drinking—a rite of passage? When you and your spouse disagree.”

Talking to Your Kids at Any Age —  It’s never to early to start the conversation. You’re most effective as a parent in shaping values and choices about drugs and alcohol before your child starts using.

Teens Face Many Pressures — Being a teen is not easy, and the stresses they face today are very different than what you may have faced when you were a teen. Worry about being popular is just the tip of the iceberg.

If You Think Your Child is Drinking What do you do if you think your child is drinking or, worse yet, if you know he or she is? Don’t panic. Click here for suggestions from experts and other parents.

Warning Signs – It can be difficult to tell if your teen is using. Here are some practical tips on what to look for. And remember to gather as many facts as you can before you approach your child.


Get Smart about Parties

Tips for Parents of Teens

Here are a few things to keep in mind when your son or daughter asks to have a party in your home or to go to a party at a friend’s house.

A Party at Your Home

  • Check the guest list with your teenager. Know who is going to attend. Do not allow an open party where anyone can just walk in. The party must be “by invitation only.”
  • Set a definite start and ending time. Suggest daytime parties instead of evenings, as well as swimming, skating or renting movies as alternatives.
  • Set the ground rules. No alcoholic beverages, smoking, drugs, leaving the party and returning, or uninvited guests. Certain rooms in your house are off limits, and the lights should always be left on.
  • Adults must be present, visible and aware of what is happening at all times.  Remember that it is illegal to serve, tolerate or permit the consumption of drugs, including alcoholic beverages, by minors in your home. You are legally responsible for anything that may happen to a minor who has consumed these substances in your home. 
  • Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. If parents have driven teenagers to your house for a party, consider inviting them in to meet you. 

A Party Somewhere Else 

  • Before allowing your child to attend a party, make sure there is continuous parental supervision and no alcohol or drugs. 
  • Know where your child is going and with whom they are traveling. When taking your teenager to a party, walk them into the house and introduce yourself to the host’s parents and take a good look at what is happening.
  • Make it easy for your teenager to leave the party. If there is drinking or drug taking, or any reason that your teenager wants to leave a party, make yourself or a designated adult available to pick them up. 
  • Tell your teenager never to ride home with a driver who has been drinking or taking drugs. Say there will be no punishments or restrictions if he/she calls for a ride home if things are getting out of hand.
  • Be up to greet your teenager when he/she arrives home from a party.
  • Remember that the police are often called to teenage parties when the parents are absent. The two major problems at these parties are uninvited guests and the consumption of alcohol and drugs, which can lead to violence, sexual assault and property damage. 

Quite often, teenagers leave house parties and attend underage drinking (keg) parties in secluded or rural areas or in rented hotel rooms. These functions are extremely dangerous and give rise to alcohol/drug poisoning and death. Often, when something happens, the teenagers flee to avoid being “involved” and leave a person in need of emergency medical care. Be aware of this, as it happens frequently. To be on the safe side, check up on your child to make sure he/she is safe. Above all, do not feel you are prying into his/her personal life. Teenagers often do not realize the danger they are putting themselves in when they engage in high-risk behaviors.

Parent/Guardian Host Liability

First and foremost, understand that it is illegal to permit, tolerate or allow minors to drink alcohol or consume drugs in your home or on your property. This may seem like common sense. Unfortunately, some parents do allow unsupervised parties, where alcohol and drugs are consumed. This sends the wrong message to our children. Be aware of this, as you not only have to protect your children from themselves but also from some adults. Your diligence could very well save the life of your child or prevent another tragedy.    

Parents can be held both civilly and criminally liable for the acts of their children, or their children’s friends, if they have been drinking or taking drugs on their property. Police will arrest parents/guardians who allow underage drinking or drug use in their homes or on their property with parental consent. Parents can even be held liable if they are not at home when the underage drinking or drug use takes place.

You Can Be Held Liable 

  • If someone is injured on your property.
  • If someone is injured off your property after consuming alcohol or drugs on your property.
  • If someone is injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, fight or disturbance and previously consumed or obtained alcohol or drugs on your property.
  • If a person becomes sick from any substance he/she consumed or obtained on your property.
  • If your neighbor’s property is damaged by those attending a party at your home.
  • If your neighbor’s property is damaged by those attending a party at your home.