Today’s Wall Street Journal asks if parents should teach their teenagers to drink responsibly. Unfortunately the question is akin to asking if they should also teach their teens to shoplift or text while they’re driving.
First, there are the developmental issues. Teens’ brains are still developing so their emotions and judgment are still a work in progress. Second, there is the question of encouraging your child to abide by the law, even if you may question its validity. Signaling to your teens that some laws are good and others are bad sends an inconsistent message to teens.
Explaining to your teen why adults may choose to drink but teens should not is at the heart of conversations that should start when your child is as young as ten or eleven. These conversations should happen early and often. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has resources available to encourage parents to talk to their teens and help them understand that underage drinking is unsafe, illegal and irresponsible.