Teenagers mature at different rates. But even if your son or daughter is very mature for their age, it might be a good idea to stop and think for a moment when they start talking about going away with their friends.

Adults on holiday

Think about what you do when you’re away on holiday. An awful lot of adults see partying and alcohol as a natural part of their holiday. Once the bags are checked in, the airport bar tends to fill up pretty quickly, even if it’s only 6 a.m. And once you’re on the plane, spirits, wine and beer are on sale, and then, once you’ve reached your destination, how about a celebratory drink on the balcony? The norms in relation to alcohol that apply back home often disappear when you’re on holiday. Some adults will think nothing of having a beer with their lunch, or a few drinks in the afternoon, when they’re on holiday, but would never do that at home. OK, that’s not the way it is for everyone when they’re on holiday, but it’s very common, so it’s hardly surprising if teenagers think about alcohol when they think about travel. So think about what you’re doing and remember that you’re a role model for your child.

Everyone was drinking like crazy when we went on an All Inclusive. You could just go up to the pump and help yourself to beer. Even the kids were doing it. No one was keeping track.

Sasha, aged 15, Örebro

There’s no one to say, “enough”

A lot of organised trips are designed to appeal to party-mad young people. Alcohol and drugs are both widely available and there are no adults standing in their way. And as a result, the youngsters often pile into the first bar they see and get drunk. And this is equally true whether they head for ”Bar Street” on Rhodes, to a ski resort in the Alps, or to Malta to study English. Even if your teenager would rather not drink, travelling without adults is risky, so it’s up to you, as a parent, to weigh up the positive experience of independent travel against the risk of something going wrong.

Talk about the risks

You’re the parent, so it’s obviously you who decides, but you don’t have to automatically say, “No” without thinking about it. Travelling independently can be both exciting and educational. Discuss what might happen and how important it is that they take care of themselves. You also need to make it clear to your teenager that people from different cultures may have a completely different attitude towards alcohol and that the way they handle drunken youngsters might be a lot different from what they’re used to.

Language courses

Most of the big language course travel firms have a total ban on alcohol and narcotics. Anyone caught with drugs will be sent home at their own expense and will not get a refund for the course. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the organisers can’t keep an eye on every single teenager, 24/7.

Charter trips

Most travel firms have an age limit of 18, but travelling unaccompanied when you’re under 18 is still possible if you can show a signed authorisation from your parents. That signature means that if something happens, it’s the parent’s responsibility, not the travel firm’s.

No, everyone else does not get to go

There’s nothing odd or wrong about saying “No” to a teenager who wants to go on holiday with his or her friends. You have every right to refuse. You’re not a cruel parent, even if your teenager’s friends are being allowed to go and you have said, “No.” Try thinking about how often that’s actually true – that everyone else is allowed to do something – and about how often that’s just what every child says to their slightly dubious parents.

More to read about the same topic

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.

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?

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.

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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