Sometimes it seems like everything you tell your teen goes in one ear and out the other, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to important topics, such as underage drinking, your teens are actually listening to what you’re saying. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that 3 out of 4 teens say their parents have the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol.
According to MADD, teens whose parents tell them that underage drinking is 100% unacceptable are about 80% less likely to drink. On the other hand, teens who don’t receive as firm a message or who don’t hear anything at all about underage drinking from their parents are over 5 times more likely to drink.
Your teen’s decision to drink while underage can have a big impact on his or her future relationship with alcohol and judgment when it comes to drinking and driving. MADD offers some eye-opening statistics about teens who don’t drink and teens who do. Compared to teens who start drinking at or before the age of 15, teens who DON’T drink until the age of 21 are:
- 80% less likely to abuse alcohol or acquire an alcohol addiction later in life
- 70% less likely to drink and drive later in life
- 85% less likely to cause an alcohol-related traffic crash
- 90% less likely to be in a fight after drinking later in life
- 87% less likely to sell illegal drugs
On the other hand, teens who DO drink at or before the age of 15 are:
- 5 times more likely to abuse alcohol or acquire an alcohol addiction later in life
- 3 times more likely to drink and drive later in life
- 7 times more likely to cause an alcohol-related traffic crash
- 10 times more likely be in a fight after drinking later in life
- 8 times more likely to sell illegal drugs
Keep your teen safe, both now and in the future, by talking to them about the consequences of alcohol and underage drinking and communicating to them that underage drinking is completely unacceptable. To make sure your message is more effective, start talking to your teens about alcohol and underage drinking at an early age and keep the conversation honest and ongoing.