From One Parent to Another—by Aidee Covarrubias

I'm probably one of those mothers who thinks about the dangers of drinking alcohol at an early age more than the average person. I think this is because my work has allowed me to learn about the impact alcohol can have on teenagers' brains. It also gives me the access to hear directly from many parents and guardians how difficult it can be when they face the decision on how to guide their children who are wanting to drink alcohol.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver, or someone who cares about youth, it is important to address the issue of youth drinking alcohol. But why is this so important? Every two years, the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission conducts a statewide survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, called the Arizona Youth Survey (AYS). This is the largest survey of youth in Arizona and includes over 100 questions related to alcohol, other drugs, tobacco use, gambling, firearms, gangs, school safety, family issues, and other matters. In 2016, AYS data shows alcohol as the substance used most by youth on at least one day in the 30 days preceding the survey. Experimenting with alcohol can be very common among children. Even though as parents we do not always like to think about it; the reality is that many children and teenagers try alcohol long before they reach an age when it is legal to drink. Let’s not forget that it is harmful for their developing brains and addictive. 

When you feel ready to talk to your children about alcohol, first know that your children need to hear about drugs from you before they hear from someone else. Kids do listen. The AYS data shows that the number one reason for not drinking alcohol is because of parent’s disapproval. Let your kids know what your expectations are. Set clear rules and limits, as they need to understand that there will be consequences if they break them. Become involved, know what your children are doing, how they are spending their time, who their friends are, and get to know their parents too. Remember, no one knows your children more than you.  Here are some tips to guide you in this conversation.