1-800-343-9272 822 E. 41st St., Ste. 235 | Sioux Falls, SD 57105

Some parents may feel their teens don’t listen. But studies—and the downturn in underage drinking and driving deaths—show that’s not true. In fact, you are the most powerful influence on your child’s behavior.

Building a close relationship with your kids encourages them to come to you for help in making decisions. Over 50 percent of teens say their parents are their role models. Research shows:

Young people who hear/learn “no use” messages at home are 50 percent LESS likely to use alcohol. Additionally, two-thirds of teens say that losing their parents’ respect and pride is one of the main reasons they don’t use illegal substances.

Texting is an increasingly popular way for parents to communicate with their children. Use text messages to start the alcohol conversation and keep it going.

If you talk to your kids about drinking, they’ll listen. They need to hear what you have to say about underage drinking.

Find the help and resources you need here. Take a stand. Have the talk. Because PARENTS DO MATTER.


What To Talk About

While students may tell their parents that their Friday night of choice is a date with their Anthropology research paper in the library or a movie marathon with their roommates, it’s crucial that parents talk with their kids about the dangers of binge drinking and responsible partying. Here are some talking points for parents of college-aged children:

  • If your child is a freshman, pay attention to his or her experiences during the first six weeks on campus, when he or she is settling into a new home and taking part in clubs and Greek orientations and activities. Check in with your student frequently during the school year to help spot any patterns of behavior that might signal a problem with alcohol.
  • Set clear expectations about academic performance; alcohol’s wear on the body, the mind and the overall health of an individual can impair a student’s ability to attend class, keep up with schoolwork and maintain academic performance.
  • Make sure your son or daughter knows that underage drinking carries serious legal consequences — as do other alcohol-related offenses, like drinking in public, using a fake ID or driving or biking under the influence.
  • Stress to your son or daughter that if they suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning, they should not wait to observe more symptoms, or assume that someone simply passed out and will sleep it off; they should call 9-1-1 immediately.
    • 35-9-2.4.   Immunity from prosecution for offense arising out of underage consumption for person who assists person in need of emergency assistance. No person may be arrested or prosecuted for any misdemeanor offense of underage consumption, open container, or public intoxication, arising out of underage consumption of alcohol if that person contacts any law enforcement or emergency medical services and reports that a person is in need of emergency medical assistance due to alcohol consumption and that person:
                   (1)      Assists the person in need of emergency medical assistance until assistance arrives; and
                   (2)      Remains and cooperates with medical assistance and law enforcement personnel on the scene.

Remember that drinking, especially binge drinking, should never be an outlet for students to relieve stress or personal concerns. If you suspect your college student is over-dependent on alcohol, encourage them to seek counseling. University and college campuses often have treatment programs or specialized counseling programs to aid students who have alcohol-related problems.


Resetting Household Rules Important for Teens With Substance Use Disorders

  • Setting new household rules for teens in treatment for a substance use disorder can be challenging for parents. But it is important because research shows that teens do take their parents’ attitudes, opinions, and beliefs into account when they make choices about substance use.
  • It is very important for parents to firmly establish a rule prohibiting drug or alcohol use, even if they previously allowed their teen to drink or use drugs in the house alone or with friends. Dr. Hammond notes, “Being the ‘cool parent’ who lets teens drink at their house is not only illegal but also associated with poorer outcomes for teens in treatment for substance use disorders.” Allowing drug and alcohol use at home is associated with poorer outcome for teens who are in treatment.
  • Along with explaining the rules, parents need to tell their teen the rules are meant to keep them safe and healthy. “We tell parents to explain the impact of drug and alcohol use on teen brain development—there is no good reason for teens to be using drugs or alcohol.” He also urges parents to assign teens chores to give them a sense of responsibility.
  • They also need to make clear consequences for breaking rules. Inconsistent limit setting teaches teens to not respect their parent’s authority. It also teaches them not to trust that parents will follow through with consequences.
  • Consequences for breaking rules on substance use can include restricting media access (including taking the teen’s phone away for a certain period) and taking away the car keys. “These are privileges, not rights,” Dr. Hammond says. “Parents should unapologetically monitor their teen’s media usage, especially in treatment and early recovery, since so much drug use occurs with friends.” Parents should also emphasize that drunk and drugged driving can be deadly. “These are areas where parents have leverage that they are often afraid to use. But phones and cars tend to reinforce bad behavior.”
  • Resetting household rules is not a one-time event but rather a process, observes Dr. Hammond. “Especially, if the parents are divorced and there are blended families with different perspectives, it can help to have a supportive mental health provider mediate the conversation on rule-setting,” he says. If parents decide to have a conversation about household rules at home, Dr. Hammond advises them to choose a time when they are calm and are not punishing their teen.
  • It’s common for teens to test the new rules by increasing their bad behavior right after the parent resets household rules. “If parents are firm in setting and enforcing consequences, that behavior tends to diminish dramatically and pretty quickly,” Dr. Hammond says. It’s also important to address barriers that may interfere with a parent’s ability to consistently enforce the rules. “It takes a lot of energy, effort and time, and it can be inconvenient for them, so many parents may not stick with them and fall back to old patterns.”
  • He urges parents to take time to build the relationship with their teen, and have fun with them. “Parenting shouldn’t just be about discipline and punishment,” he states. “There should be time for family activities.”
  • Above all, parents shouldn’t blame themselves or their teen for substance use. “Don’t beat yourself up for not being a perfect parent,” Dr. Hammond says. “This is really hard, and parents should be applauded for trying. Blame doesn’t help people to rebuild their relationships and to grow.”