I can be an ostrich. I can bury my head under the sand. Sing La La La when confronted with a situation that makes me uncomfortable. But I’m an adult. I can’t avoid unpleasant conversations with issues that affect my kids. I need to remove my head from the sand, come up for air, and have those “big” conversations with my kids. I wouldn’t be doing a good job as a parent if I didn’t address these issues head on to help my children navigate through the muddy waters of tween and teendom.
My latest conversations have been about alcohol. Breathe deeply, mom! You see my oldest child started a new chapter in her life, and ours too, when she went away to college. This change has been a huge one for all of us. She was so ready to go. Ready to explore her interests. Ready to grab college by the horns.
I would be lying if I said I was 100% excited about her going with no reservations at all. Oh, of course I’m thrilled that she gets to go to what looks like the college of her dreams for the next four years, but this new situation for her is causing my “worry” instincts to go in to overdrive. Every day I worry whether she is getting up for class, eating a healthy-ish diet, doing her school work, and getting a good night’s sleep. Make no mistake…she is a really good kid. She is a hard worker. She is conscientious. She is responsible, but I still worry. It’s who I am. Even if I wasn’t a parent, I would still worry all the time about every single, solitary thing…like I do now.
Before she left, we had lots of conversations ranging from the mundane…eating three meals a day at the dining hall, doing laundry…to weightier topics…staying safe while walking on campus at night to risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol use. I was very clear with her that my expectation is that she will act responsibly at all times…make good decisions…keep herself safe.
Do you have conversations with your kids about topics that are uncomfortable to talk about? A good tip is to have the conversation with your tween and teen over a meal or a froyo or a frappe at Starbucks. Tweens and teens love to eat. They are at their most receptive when food is involved. I have had some great conversations with my kids at restaurants or in the car on the way to practice.
With a tween and two teens, I was interested to learn about what the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR) is doing to help parents talk to their children about drinking responsibly. A month or two ago, I reviewed a now released app from FAAR called Grab the Goodies. Within no time at all my son was happily exploring the app with me. As he played and I watched we had some really great conversations on drinking responsibly. We talked about how you have to be 21 to drink in all states. And how if you drink before 21, you are breaking the law. I kept the conversation light. Not too doom and gloom. He’s 11 and really doesn’t need to know just yet about breathalyzer tests, drunk driving fatalities, and alcohol addiction in great detail. I explained but didn’t overdo. I wanted to keep the conversation positive. I wanted not to scare him. I wanted to give him enough information to ask questions, which he did.
What you need to know about teaching your kids about drinking responsibly:
- The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has introduced a new component to the Ask Listen Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program to assist parents in teaching their kids to say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to underage drinking!
- Grab The Goodies is an educational game that teaches kids how to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Grab the Goodies can be downloaded from the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store.
- Grab The Goodies tackles the issue of underage drinking in an engaging and fun way
- The Grab The Goodies app, geared for kids (aged 6-9), enables kids to learn about the negative consequences of underage drinking and empowers them to make healthy lifestyle choices as they get older.
Disclosure: I was compensated by FAAR for the time spent reviewing and writing about the app. All opinions are my own.