Don’t be surprised if your parents talk with you about alcohol this month.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is celebrating the fifth year of PowerTalk 21, a national day for parents and kids to begin conversations about alcohol. As part of the program—which includes a 15-minute virtual workshop for parents, prize drawings, and a new download—MADD is encouraging parents to specifically discuss the risks of riding with a drinking driver.
Why is this a big deal?
Over 4,300 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries related to drinking. Even if your parents have discussed why you should NEVER drink and drive, it’s also important to know how dangerous it is to ride with a drinking driver.
What the study says
MADD worked with Dr. Robert Turrisi, who has done a lot of research about teens and alcohol, to examine why teens ride with drinking drivers. The results were startling. Dr. Turrisi’s study found that the person with the largest impact on a teen’s decision whether to ride with a drinking driver is not a friend—not even a best friend.
Instead, it’s mom and dad. If teens see their parents ride with a drinking driver, they are more likely to do the same.
Think of it this way: You’ve been watching and learning from your parents since the moment you were born. You learned how to speak, interact with others, and more by examining what your parents did. So it makes sense that you also learn about alcohol by watching them.
How to talk to your parents
Your parents may bring up this issue with you. Try not to change the subject or be defensive. Remember, they’re bringing it up to keep you safe, not to ruin your good time.
If your parents don’t start the conversation, you can start it. (Yes, really!) Talk to them about how you see them interact with alcohol and what it makes you think about.
Pick a time when it’s just you and your parents to discuss it. Be open and honest. This conversation is too important to let embarrassment or anxiety hold you back.
Feel free to point your parents to MADD’s PowerTalk 21 website for more information. PowerTalk 21 officially takes place April 18 through 22. But staying safe is something you should think about year-round.