Moms Columns & Blogs

Is it time to talk alcohol with your kids? Tips for parents who need to have 'the talk' with their kids about drinking

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


Prom season, graduation events, trips to the beach, summer jobs, going off to college for the first time - it's the time of year when the headiness of changes going on teens' lives often make them want to experiment with alcohol. offers some relevant statistics and practical advice for parents of teens who need to help them make safe decisions. Touted as a new approach to the "drinking talk" that most parents eventually have, it focuses on how the message is presented to children.

Developed from conversations with teens, their parents and experts on teens and parenting, ( ) is a new alcohol awareness campaign largely funded by distillers. Based on feedback from teens themselves, the campaign strives to hit the right tone so that the message is actually taken in by the very ones it is designed to reach.A linguist analyzed the conversations used as the basis for the campaign - more than 40 hours of focus groups with experts, parents and teens - and created a series of key words and dialog clusters to guide parents when they talk to kids at various life stages, from pre-sixth-grade (when two-thirds of teens say they first became aware of alcohol), sixth- to eighth-grade, and ninth-grade and beyond. The user-friendly website that resulted combines text and video tools to facilitate "impactful conversations" about drinking.

According to information on the site, almost 50 percent of teens polled by Research Now said they fear their parents are going to lecture them during "the alcohol talk" and 75 percent of parents do exactly that.

And 64 percent of teens surveyed said that 5th grade or younger is when they initially became aware of alcohol, but most parents think 6th to 8th grade is the best time to start "the alcohol talk."

According to Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder, an authority on parenting, author and clinical psychologist who helped develop the online campaign, underwritten by Pernod Ricard USA, there are how-to-talk tools for such topics as peer pressure, how to clearly state consequences for bad decisions, and how to validate a child's opinion by including them in the conversation. She is co-author of "Teenage as a Second Language" (Adams Media 2010) and the creator of, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of, an interactive informational website for the parents of teenagers.

Among the tips:

-Establish and develop a strong rapport with your child in their early years so you can engage them in conversations as they mature.

-Listen to what is on your child's mind.

-Address drinking early and often, as it comes up naturally in other conversation topics. is a project of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR), a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking. Formerly known as The Century Council, it is funded by Pernod Ricard USA and other leading distillers.

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