October 21, 2021

4 Tips for Cortland County Parents on Setting Rules About Teen Alcohol Use

One of ways parents can prevent their teen from drinking alcohol is setting clear family rules about alcohol use. In fact, according to the 2019 youth survey data, 85% of Cortland County 7th-12th graders reported that their family has clear rules about alcohol use. These students were also less likely to report drinking alcohol or binge drinking in the past 30 days compared to other students.

1. Develop Rules Specific to Your Family Values

Every family is different, so take some time to reflect on your values as a parent and what you want to communicate to your child about alcohol use.

The National Institute of Health suggests the following rules:
1. No drinking until age 21
2. Siblings should not encourage drinking or provide alcohol to younger siblings
3. Leave parties where drinking is involved
4. No riding with a driver who has been drinking (call a parent or other trusted adult for a ride).

2. Talk About Rules Early

Having conversations with your child about the dangers and consequences of alcohol use can begin as early as age nine. Incorporate family rules into these discussions. Research shows that parents can influence a child’s decision to not drink alcohol, so having a conversation about rules before your child starts drinking is extremely important. Avoiding the conversation could send the message that alcohol use isn’t a big deal in your family. Be consistent with what you say to your child about alcohol use and your parental consequences so they continue to view you as a serious, reliable source.

3. Enforce Fair Consequences

Set fair consequences and enforce them if your child does break rules. Our survey data shows us that kids who reported major parental consequences when caught drinking in the past year were less likely to binge drink in the past month compared to kids who had no or minor parental consequences.

Determining consequences for drinking alcohol is different for each family and teen, but some options include: taking away privileges, adding chores, or taking away cellphones. Have an open discussion with your teenager about what they think the consequences should be and what their thoughts and feelings on alcohol use are.

1. Pride Surveys. New York State Partnership for Success Student Survey: Cortland County Grades 7-12. 2019.
2. Make a Difference: Talk to your child about alcohol-Parents. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/make-a-difference-child-alcohol
3. Binge Drinking. The American Academy of Pediatrics. 2015. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2015/08/26/peds.2015-2337.full.pdf
4. Why small conversations make a big impression. SAMHSA. https://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/parent-resources/small-conversations

Sign Our Cortland County Parent Pledge to Stop Underage Drinking Today!

Calling all Cortland County parents of 7th -12th graders! Upstream Parent, a Cortland Area Communities That Care project, is spearheading an initiative to help reduce underage drinking and promote teen health and wellness in Cortland County, but we need your help! According to our survey of over 2,000 Cortland County students, the number one place teens in Cortland County access alcohol is at home with or without parent permission. As parents, you can play a key role in reducing teen access to alcohol by taking our Cortland County Parent Pledge today.

We want you to know that you are not alone in your decision to limit your teen’s (and their friend’s!) access to alcohol. While home may be the number one place teens in our community are accessing alcohol, the majority (90%) of 7th -12th graders DID NOT report accessing alcohol from home with their parent’s permission last year.

Sign the Parent Pledge today!

Cortland Area Communities That Care is spearheading an initiative to reduce underage drinking in Cortland County. If you want to join other parents and commit to reducing teen access to alcohol in our community sign our pledge today.