table talk


Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, have serious problems in school, be sexually active at earlier ages and be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes. Parents’ disapproval of youthful alcohol use is the key reason children choose not to drink. Choose any ideas that you may be comfortable with, trust your instincts, and engage in conversations with other Montana parents by joining the private Facebook group.


Even a Small Amount of Perceived Parental Acceptability Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Parental Influence on alcohol use – Education alone is not enough to deter teens from drinking as they transition to adulthood because there are many pressures and opportunities to drink.  Actively involved parents have a powerful influence on a child’s decision to remain alcohol-free.

Teen perceptions of parental disapproval are great deterrents.  Parents may not realize that children say parental disapproval of underage drinking is the key reason they’ve chosen not to drink.  Research indicates that children are less likely to drink when their parents are involved in their lives and when they (and their parents) report feeling close to one another.  Family conflict and lack of bonding are associated with increased risk of drinking.  Mixed messages and unclear rules or expectations also leave children more vulnerable to underage drinking.

teen troubled

What can you do?


For many parents, bringing up the subject of alcohol is no easy matter. Your young teen may try to dodge the discussion, and you yourself may feel unsure about how to proceed. To make the most of your conversation, take some time to think about the issues you want to discuss before you talk with your child. Consider too how your child might react and ways you might respond to your youngster's questions and feelings. Then choose a time to talk when both you and your child have some "down time" and  are feeling relaxed.  Here are some tips to help. 

  1. Explain the risks. Learn and explain the risks of underage drinking.  Emphasize that drinking is not a “rite of passage” but a dangerous drug for a teenage brain.
  2. Talk early and often.  In Montana, surveys indicate that some youth binge drink in the 6th grade, and a few start earlier. Most parents talk to their kids about drinking two years too late.  Age 8 is not too early.
  3. Set clear rules.  Set clear, specific rules about no alcohol use.  “No underage drinking in our family.”
  4. Know their friends.  Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.  Help them choose friends who support your family’s rules.
  5. Monitor activities.  Always know where your children are, who they’re with and what they’re doing.  For example, say:  “If there’s alcohol at a party, call and I’ll come get you.”
  6. Make alcohol unavailable.  Ensure that alcohol is not available to your child at home or from others when your child is away.
  7. Be involved.  Promote bonding opportunities and have positive daily interactions with your child.
  8. Call home.  Studies show that children are more likely to drink between 3 and 6 PM, while unsupervised by parents.  Give your kids a call.

Conversation Starter

Your son asks to go to a party.  You have heard that alcohol will be involved.

What should you Say?

“No, you can’t go.  You know how I feel about you drinking.  I will not allow you to go to a place where there will be alcohol.”