Talk to Teens About Safe New Year’s Celebrations
New Year’s Eve can be a fun night for celebrations. Younger kids may enjoy the festivities by drinking sparkling grape juice and playing with noise makers.
As our kids get older, they may be more interested in going to a friend’s house or even a New Year’s party. One of the traditions that can make New Year’s Eve a dangerous holiday is drinking.
We all want to assume that our teen or college student won’t drink and drive, or overdo it if they do have a beer or glass of sparkling wine. But according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New Year’s drunk-driving deaths exceed those of any other day of the year.
Alcohol-related car crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15-24. So how should parents address this with their teenage kids or young adult offspring?
Keep Lines of Communication Open
The first step for parents is open communication with their child. Talk about the dangers of drinking and driving. Also for teens and college students younger than 21, it’s important to discuss that not only is it dangerous for them to drink, it is also illegal.
Talk about how they can avoid peer pressure and different scenarios of what to do if others are drinking. Discuss how they should never get in the car with someone who has been drinking.
Let your child know that while you don’t approve of them drinking you will always come pick them up. Discuss using taxi or ride-hailing services and other options.
Discuss the Damage Drinking Can Do
When talking to your teen about drinking it is important to also discuss the consequences of drinking both legal and otherwise. Make sure you have told your child the consequences that you as a parent will enforce if they do drink.
You can explain how stress might lead some people to “self-medicate” with drinking.
Parents should also lead by example and not drink and drive and make smart and safe choices when it comes to alcohol consumption. Remember to explain the impact alcohol can have on our health as well.
Keep Talking – Even if Your Kids are 21
Even though your college-age child may be legal to drink it is still important to discuss making safe choices when drinking.
Consider the facts:
- Many young adults binge drink, which means they are having five or more drinks in a short period of time.
- Binge drinking can lead to making poor choices so it is important to talk to you college-age kids about the importance of not binge drinking and making safe choices when it comes to alcohol.
- Regular alcohol use can lead to dependence and addiction.
- Drinking and driving can have tragic consequences and even be fatal to them or others. Not to mention the costs of getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
Addiction can spiral from bad to worse, too.
Taking the time to have these vital conversations with the young people in your life can help keep them and others safe. We hope you have a safe and Happy New Year! We’re always happy to help answer questions, too.
By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center