When other people’s kids are in trouble

If you find out or suspect that someone else’s teenager is drinking, in a bad place, or that their home circumstances are giving cause for concern, you can try to do something about it. But you have to handle it sensibly, even if it’s not your child who’s involved. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

DON’T GO BEHIND PEOPLE’S BACKS

If your teenager tells you something about a friend and you don’t think it’s right to keep quiet about it, you have to explain why you feel that way. It’s not about telling tales – it’s about caring what happens. Your teenager has chosen to tell you, so they’re probably hoping, that you’ll act on the information. Let your child know what you’re intending to do, so that they don’t feel that you’re breaking a confidence.

If I had a friend who drank a lot, I’d tell my parents. But I don’t think they’d do anything.

Nellie, aged 15, Gothenburg

DON’T TAKE ON THE ROLE OF GUIDANCE OFFICER ALL BY YOURSELF

If you’re worried about another teenager, get help from other adults. Start by getting in touch with the teenager in question’s parents, as long as the concern doesn’t relate to something the parents are doing. If that’s the case, or if they don’t act on your concerns, try contacting the school’s Guidance Officer or the social services. The important thing is that someone reacts quickly. No teenager should have to suffer without any adult noticing or caring what happens.

HOME CIRCUMSTANCES THAT GIVE CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Studies have shown that around 320,000 children in Sweden have been negatively affected by growing up with at least one parent who has an alcohol problem.  The environment for children and young people living in close proximity with an adult who drinks too much is often a very unpredictable one, and increases the risk of a deterioration in both health and educational outcomes. But it can be difficult to know what to do and how you can best be of help. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to solve all of the problems at once. Showing that there’s an adult who cares can be a big help. Simple actions, like asking how they’re doing, setting an extra place at the table, or offering a lift home from training, can be a big help.

Why should I tell my parents about things that involve my friends? They're not my parents friends, after all.

Nadia, aged 16, Gothenburg

TALK TO OTHER SENSIBLE PEOPLE

If you’re worried about someone else’s child, or if something’s happened, it’s a good idea to talk to someone. Maybe there’s someone in your circle who has experience of similar issues and with whom you can share your concerns. There are also a number of different organisations that are used to talking to both teenagers and parents about all sorts of issues and concerns. You’ll find some suggestions here.

More to read about the same topic

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.

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.

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.

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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