by Nicole Youcupicio, Prevention Specialist, Casa Grande Alliance
More than likely your to-do list this holiday season includes buying presents, but does it include being present?
Being physically, emotionally and mentally present with your children is crucial, especially during the holidays.
On an average day in December, more than 11,000 youth will use alcohol for the first time.1 That is approximately 70% more per day compared to other months throughout the year.
But you can prevent your child from using alcohol. Teens who have good relationships with their parents are two times less likely to use alcohol.2
There are a few steps you can take to help your child stay away from alcohol:
- Talk early and often with your children about drugs and alcohol. Communication and repetition is key. Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are 50% less likely to use drugs, yet less than 48% of Casa Grande teens report having these conversations with their parents.3, 4 These conversations need to happen; the average age Casa Grande youth start drinking is 13. More than 1 in 8 eighth graders, 1 in 5 10th graders, and almost 1 in 3 12th graders in Casa Grande report using alcohol in the last 30 days.4
- Be a good role model. If you use alcohol, set a good example and drink responsibly to teach your child good decision-making skills. Your actions inadvertently tell them what is and what is not acceptable. What are you telling them if every time you have a bad day you immediately come home and have a beer?
- Monitor your child’s activities. Always know where your child is and who they are with, and limit the amount of time your child spends unsupervised, even at home. In 2018, 18.4% of Casa Grande teens report obtaining alcohol from home, and 2 out of 3 teens aged 13-18 said it is easy to get alcohol from their own homes without their parents knowing.4, 5 The City of Casa Grande has a social hosting and unruly party ordinance that states it is against the law to have underage drinking in your home whether you knowingly supplied the alcohol or not. The entire ordinance can be seen at casagrandeaz.gov.
- Do not allow your child to drink at home. Over half of high school teens who report their parents allow them to drink at home (even just once in a while) report they also drink elsewhere with their friends.5 In 2018, 23.3% of Casa Grande youth reported obtaining alcohol from a parent or guardian, which has increased by approximately 247% since 2014.4 Allowing your child to drink at home is usually done with good intentions, but it will send the wrong message and can cause more harm than good to both you and your child.
- Set clear rules and consequences. Set and enforce a “zero tolerance” policy that clearly states there is to be no underage drinking or drug use in your home. Enforce these rules with consistency and appropriate consequences.
Even teenagers look to their parents and other caring adults for guidance, boundaries and positive support. A 2018 survey found 74% of Casa Grande teens who don’t use drugs and alcohol choose not to because they don’t want to disappoint their parents or another adult in their life. Our kids need and want our presence over presents. So, I challenge you to be purposefully present this holiday season.
If you would like more information on how to talk with your child about drugs and alcohol, go to CasaGrandeAlliance.org or call 520-836-5022.