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Teaching Your Grad to Make Good Choices

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With proms and graduations all occurring right now, the energy of the season is upon us. At that same time come concerns for celebrations that include alcohol and under-age drinking. It is such an exciting time of year for adolescents and young adults (what is the right term for those under 21, they are still our children), but parties are frequent and safety is paramount.

The National Traffic Safety Administration warns that the number of adolescents killed in drunken driving accidents is greater during prom and graduation season that any other time of year. Statistics show that more than one-third of youth traffic fatalities under the age of 21 occur during the months of April, May and June.

This is the best time to sit down with your child and discuss the risks of under age drinking, including drinking and driving, the risk of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, and even sexual experimentation which often follows alcohol consumption. All of these issues are a reality and although our children may not want to discuss it, these are issues that they are confronted with. Making good choices and being responsible continues on prom night and graduation.

It is still important for parents to know who their child is with, where they are going, who is hosting the party, and who will be driving. A limousine takes driving out of the mix, but at the same time is often associated with alcohol and partying while riding to the prom or graduation party. Talk to other parents about the ground rules and expectations, as most parents have the same concerns. Make sure that everyone is on the same page about checking in, curfew and that there will always be adult supervision, especially for after parties. Allowing teens to drink because you the parents take their keys away at the after party, sends the wrong message, and is also illegal.

The bottom line is that safety is of the utmost importance. Give your son or daughter the option of calling you at any time for a ride home, no questions asked, if they find themselves in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Having fun and being safe, that makes for the best prom or graduation possible.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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