Did you know the legal drinking age in most of the world is 18? That’s three years before here in the United States. By 18, most of us as parents have already talked with our kids about alcohol and the ramifications of drinking, but are you prepared to travel with them where they are legal to drink? And, are they ready to travel to these parts of the world without you? To help make the travels a success, one Traveling Mom is sharing tips for dealing with this issue that have worked with her children.
If your kids are 18, the assumption is you have already talked to them about alcohol and all of the discussions that surround the topic. But, the conversation about traveling to a country where they can legally drink before they are of age at home is very different, whether you are with them or they are traveling solo or with other teens. My twins recently traveled much of the world by themselves and came back with stories from hostels and group gatherings that made me oh, so happy we had these talks before they left. At least I knew they were as best prepared as they could be going into these situations.
Tips for Dealing with Teens, Travel, and Legal Drinking
Make it an open conversation. This should be conversation as a family that they are a part of and not one in which you simply lecture and they listen.
Be frank. No matter how many discussions you have had about drinking, this is one that must be frank. They need to know the potential ramifications of their actions, especially if they are in foreign countries where breaking the laws could have devastating effects.
Be honest. Your kids have been watching you. Mine know we like a cocktail or a glass of wine. Talk to them about why you drink and what you drink. Believe me, they have been watching you, so be honest AND responsible.
Set expectations. Do this before you leave, like when you book the trip. Start talking to your teen. Ask them what their expectations are and talk about what you feel is acceptable. If your teen is in college, the discussion should also be around what happens there. Don’t lay down the law, but set expectations around drinking. Make sure the conversation includes the different types of drinking, like being at a club versus having a sangria with you at dinner.
Set expectations again when you arrive and know more about the area. This is so important! You can do your research, but until you actually arrive and get a feel for the area, you will not be able to do this effectively. Ask the locals where it is safe for your kiddos, then figure out the places you can be nearby having a late dinner or cocktail while they explore the night life on their own. We fully believe in setting them up for success.
If they are bringing a friend, talk to the friend’s parents before you go. This is a must, even if you are not friends with the parents! Let your child know you will be calling and make sure you give the friend ample time to talk to their parents before you do. Be honest about your child and your beliefs, expectations, and boundaries you set and what conversation you have had with your teens.
Give them space, but set boundaries. Truth is everyone likes boundaries, physical and time. Make sure you also talk about check-in times with you and anything else you feel is important.
Spend time with your kids as a family. Make sure they are comfortable with the situation and if they are partaking in a drink, enjoy it with them. There is less of a chance of it becoming anything more serious.
Don’t party with your kids like you’re friends. This is my biggest pet peeve ever. You are the parent, not the best friend and it’s imperative to remember that, no matter how much you’d like to be the “cool” parent.
And never, please NEVER drink and drive and make sure your teens don’t either. Hire a driver, walk, take Uber, a taxi, or public transportation. Just one drink can make you buzzed! Make sure your teen knows it’s safe to call you for a ride or know their alternatives, if they have had a drink. Make sure they aren’t afraid to come to you for help, if needed, judgement free.
Truth is, by this time of their lives, not only have you had the conversation many times, but they have most likely come home from friends’ houses talking about people who had been drunk and in today’s world, they most likely have heard of horrible things that have happened to friends and friends of friends who have been drinking.
We have always found parenting to be an open discussion and a true mix of our traditions, ethics, and beliefs combined with the twins’ personalities and what we have learned along the way. And believe me, we have learned a lot…