If your teenager comes home drunk?

However much you’ve talked about and discussed things, however much information you’ve given them and however much you’ve shown them that you care, there’s still a possibility that your teenager might still come home drunk. In one sense, you can be glad that your teenager has come home, because once your teenager has come home, at least there’s someone there who cares, which is far from certain if he or she ends up somewhere else. But what do you do when you have a teenager standing in your hall, about to be sick?

The discussion can wait

You might well have drunk too much, yourself, at some point in your life, and you know just how bad you can feel. When that happens, you don’t feel big or strong, however old you might be, and it’s nice to have someone there to help you and to talk calmly to you. Throwing a fit and starting a row is not the right thing to do – not there and then. Make sure your drunken teenager drinks some water and put a bucket beside their bed. Let them sleep for a few hours and sober up before you talk about it. But you can still let them know that this is not OK and that you want to talk about it tomorrow.

When you're drunk, you often feel sad, and when you're sad, you don't want your parents to be angry. All the does is make you angry back at them.

Jenny, aged 16, Umeå

Tell them how you feel

If it’s unacceptable to you that your son or daughter is drinking alcohol, then you need to say so, clearly. It’s better to show your feelings than to worry yourself sick and get wound up in silence. That’ll just make things worse. Being silently aggrieved is worse than saying what you think.

I never come home on time. As long as I come home, my parents are happy.

Ted, aged 16, Umeå

There’s a difference between being stupid and doing something stupid

Coming home drunk doesn’t mean that your teenager is stupid. What it means is that he or she has done something stupid. Teenagers are particularly sensitive to what people think about them because they’re in the process of fine-tuning their own identities at that age, and being judged as being stupid can hit them hard. And being stupid is also a lot harder to change than behaving stupidly. Say, “What you did was stupid,” not, “You were stupid to do that.”

More to read about the same topic

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

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