How can I help ensure my daughter makes good decisions when it comes to alcohol and drugs at parties?
Now that she's in high school, she gets invited to more parties where I can't always be positive the parents are home. Do you have any tips on teaching her lessons about alcohol, drinking & driving, etc.? I don't want to forbid her from going, but I do want to make sure she makes good decisions.
We think its great you're taking the time to reach out for some direction to help your daughter make the best choices possible at the parties she goes to. Whenever a child is out of the home and free to make his or her own choices, it can be a source of stress for any parent. At the same time, allowing them that independence to learn how to make responsible decisions for themselves is something that is important to the development of any teenager. As such, its great that you don't want to forbid her from going to spend time with peers in a social setting.
Sometimes the best method is the most obvious method, and that is talking to her about the issues. You certainly want to talk about all of the risks associated with alcohol use (impaired vision, decision making, and driving ability). Discuss each of the risks individually and show her how they can negatively impact her life. For example, you could talk about how receives an alcohol charge would impact her ability to drive or participate in school activities.
At the same time, you want to remember that it is normal for teens to experiment with alcohol every now and then. With that in mind, talk to her about healthy decision making when she has been drinking. For example, always have a friend nearby so that she isn't taken advantage of by a young man. Talk to her about organizing a sober ride home and, if she can't find a sober ride home, remind her that you are always just a phone call away and encourage her to give you a call. Remind her that such a decision would not be met with punishment, as it shows responsible, mature decision making on her part. Talking about these things can show her that if she does make the poor choice to consume alcohol, she can still make good choices afterwards- it doesn't have to be a snowball effect where one bad choices leads to more and more bad choices. Also, it can help ease your mind that if she does decide to make a poor choice and consume alcohol, it doesn't necessarily mean that she will make an even worse decision to get behind a wheel or something of that nature.
Lastly, set expectations for alcohol use and establish a set of consequences which can be met as a result of being caught consuming alcohol- less time spent with friends on the weekends, having her car keys taken away, and things of that nature. Her safety is the most important thing in this whole equation, and which is why good decision making and the importance of safety should be the two themes of the conversation with her.