10 Thanksgiving Conversation Starters You Can Try With Your Kids

November 24th, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show your family and loved ones how much you appreciate them. A great way to show your kids that you appreciate them is by really listening to them and taking an interest in what they have to say.

If you need some help getting the conversation started with your kids while prepping the meal together, or while sitting down for your Thanksgiving dinner, we’ve got you covered. Try some of our Thanksgiving conversation starters below!

  • Who is the funniest person at the table and why?
  • What are you most thankful for this year?
  • What do you like the most about Thanksgiving? And why?
  • What is something new you learned about Thanksgiving this year?
  • What can you do to help clean up after Thanksgiving dinner?
  • Who is someone you could say “thank you” to today? And why?
  • What Thanksgiving tradition do you enjoy the most?
  • What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish or dessert?
  • How does it make you feel when someone does something really nice for you?
  • How does it make you feel when you do something really nice for someone else?

If there’s any additional conversation starters you try with your kids during this time of the year let us know in the comments below! We hope you enjoy connecting and spending time with your family this Thanksgiving.

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What do you Need to Know About Teen Parties?

November 12th, 2015

Most smoking, drinking, and drug use occurs after school hours when teens are unsupervised and hanging out with their peers. If your children are not being supervised by adults they’re more likely to try nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. Knowing where your children are and who they’re with can reduce the likelihood that they will spend their free time using harmful substances.

If your child is going to a party at a friend’s house it’s important to investigate. Speak to the friend’s parents to make sure they’ll be present during the party. At parties where parents are not present, alcohol is sixteen times more likely to be served and marijuana is twenty nine times likelier to be available. Alcohol and marijuana are a huge part of high school teen parties. While the presence of parents or responsible adults may reduce the availability of alcohol and other drugs, it does not guarantee a substance-free party. It’s very important as a parent or as an adult chaperone to be attentive at teen parties. Sometimes being upstairs or in another room is not enough. Let your teen guests know you’re monitoring their activity and that you’re available if they need anything.

Allowing children to drink alcohol in your home is likely to violate one or more “social host” laws. Many communities have passed “social host” laws that make it a criminal offense for parents or individuals over 21 to serve alcohol to underage children who are not their own or allow them to drink in their home.

“Bill Burnett, a Stanford University professor, was arrested the night after Thanksgiving over a basement party thrown by his 17-year old son to celebrate a big high school football win. Burnett said he and his wife had forbidden alcohol at the party and were upstairs at the time police received a call about possible drinking by minors. In fact, he said, he had twice made his way to the basement to check on the merry making. He spent a night in jail and was booked on 44 counts of suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

“Parents Held Responsible for Underage Drinking”

Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011.

Having your teen’s friends over for a party at your home is a good way to help your teen bond with their friends and classmates, but it’s important to talk to your teen beforehand. Make sure your teen knows that parents can be held responsible by law if alcohol or drugs are at their party in your home. Policing your child’s every action inside and outside of the home is not wise, but as a parent you have the power to enforce your family’s rules.

What are some actions or precautions you take if you’re hosting a teen party or if your teen is invited to a party at a friend’s home? Let us know in the comments below!

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Teens Have the Power to Protect Themselves and Each Other

October 21st, 2015

This month we’re delighted to have Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD National President, share information about the Power of You(th) program and “Protect Your Friends” campaign, which empower teens to protect themselves, each other, and their futures. Colleen also talks about how underage drinking and riding with a drinking driver has personally affected her family and why it’s important to have ongoing conversations with your child about alcohol. Learn more in the blog below.

For teens across the country, Fall is an exciting time. Everyone is settling into the new school year, school dances are coming up, sporting events are in full swing, Halloween, and fall festivals are near.

It’s also a time for teens to understand and embrace the crucial role they play in protecting themselves and their friends from underage drinking and related consequences. And one of the most dangerous consequences is riding with a drinking driver.

A recent MADD-State Farm public opinion survey[1] revealed that about one in three youth (ages 15-20) have been a passenger with a drinking driver at least once in the past year; and 22 percent of those drinking drivers have been underage. Equally alarming, one in four of the youth respondents said that they are willing to ride with a driver who has been drinking.

These shocking survey results reinforce research from Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Biobehavioral Health. In a recently released study[2], Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that while most students don’t necessarily plan or intend to ride with a drinking driver, they’re still at great risk to do so because they are willing to, should the occasion arise. The study also revealed that students are more willing to get into a car with a drinking driver when they perceive a positive result from doing so; specifically pointing out “helping, supporting or protecting a friend” as a reason a student may ride with a drinking driver.

The good news is that teens can and should be a big part of the solution in stopping these dangerous, often deadly outcomes. In fact, MADD developed the Power of You(th)® program to do just that – empower teens to take a stand against underage drinking and protect themselves and their friends from consequences like riding with a drinking driver.

I know firsthand how devastating those results can be. My son, Dustin, was killed when the underage drunk and drugged driver he was riding with lost control of her car and crashed into a Connecticut river. The driver and front seat passenger survived, but not Dustin. Dustin was trapped in the backseat, and struggled to escape, to survive. But he didn’t survive. He drowned.

I talked with Dustin about the dangers of both underage drinking and riding with a drinking driver. I know many of his friends, also non-drinkers, shared the same beliefs about not drinking underage. I only wish I had started those conversations earlier; and that Dustin and his friends had talked more openly about the subject as well.

It is so important not only for parents and children to have early, ongoing conversations about alcohol, but also for teens to talk to each other about making good, smart choices. Like me, I know that’s a message Dustin’s friends wish they had discussed more regularly so that he might be with us today.

This October, MADD, State Farm and community partners across the country are promoting the Power of You(th) program and “Protect Your Friends” campaign, empowering teens to protect themselves, each other, and their futures. Visit MADD.org/powerofyouth for more information about MADD’s efforts.

Teens can take the pledge not to drink alcohol before age 21 or use other drugs, and to never ride with someone who has been drinking alcohol or using drugs. They can use their social media accounts and #ProtectUrFriends to post a photo with friends and make a pact to protect themselves and each other from riding with a drinking driver. And they can download MADD’s youth booklet, “The 411 on Teen Drinking”; which contains useful information to help teens resist peer pressure, and become a positive peer influence. From now until October 31, anyone who downloads the booklet will be entered to win weekly prizes and a grand prize – an Apple Watch Sport.

Let’s make sure that teens can safely enjoy all the Fall festivities ahead and protect their futures. Together, we can create a community-wide priority to prevent underage drinking and its tragic consequences to keep our teens, roads and communities safe.


[1] MADD State Farm Online Survey, 2015

[2] Pennsylvania State University Department of Biobehavioral Health “Examination of a Dual-Process Model Predicting Riding with Drinking Drivers.” Hultgren, Scaglione, Cleveland, and Turrisi; Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, June 2015.

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The Effect of Drugs on your Child’s Academic Performance

September 24th, 2015

Most children have returned to school this month. A new school year means new academic challenges, new sports and activities, and new concerns for parents. During the school year, teens spend about half (or more) of their waking hours at school. And as a parent you might be wondering if you should be concerned about drug use in your child’s school.

Next to parents, schools exert the most influence on teen behavior. When drugs are readily available at school, all students are at risk. Substance use is not limited to just “difficult kids” who have discipline problems. Substance use threatens academic performance. Drugs make learning and concentration more difficult for adolescents. The more a student uses alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, the lower their grade point average is likely to be, and the more likely they are to drop out of school.

It’s important to make sure your child’s school is attentive to risky drinking, as well as drug use. The biggest drug problem among teens is alcohol. Beer, hard liquor, and sweetened alcoholic beverages are all very appealing to teenagers. Heavy and binge drinkers between the ages of 12 and 17 are four to five times more likely to cut classes or skip school. Students at risk for alcohol abuse are at high risk of being left back, getting suspended, and performing poorly in reading and math.

Marijuana is also appealing to teens, and it is one of their top drugs of choice. The use of marijuana among teen students can lead to lower grade point average, less satisfaction with school, negative attitudes toward school, school absences, and poor academic performance. Long-term regular marijuana use can impair memory, attention span, and the ability to comprehend information.

While you can’t be with your child while they’re at school to see what they’re experiencing, you can be there at home to talk with them about their school environment, what’s on their mind, and the consequences of using alcohol or other drugs. Ask your child if they’re worried about drug use in their school and help them come up with ways to say ‘no’ if someone offers them drugs at school. You have the power to demand a drug-free school for your child. Get together with other parents and approach school administrators about ways you can ensure a safe and drug-free environment for all students.

How often do you and your child discuss the possibility of drug use in their school? Let us know in the comments below.

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10 Ways to Prepare for Family Day

August 27th, 2015

CASAColumbia® Family Day is on Monday, September 28th, 2015. How will you be celebrating with your family and community? We’re happy to provide you with some ideas if you’re still unsure about how you can get involved this year. Here are 10 ways to prepare for Family Day:

  1. Check out our new Family Day Community Group Kit which contains ideas, tips, and tools that will help you plan a successful celebration.
  2. Need some help connecting with your teen and getting them involved in Family Day? Our new Activity Mat: Teen Edition and Parent Toolkit: Teen Edition are filled with fun activities and games you can play with your teen. They also have tips, conversation starters, and facts about substance use.
  3. Distribute Family Day brochures, magnets, and posters at local Family Day events or at schools, PTA meetings, churches, religious education programs, community sporting events, or other neighborhood gatherings. Place your order here.
  4. Check out our Family Day Activity Kit for ideas for fun things to do with your kids. We encourage you to print the kit out and try these family activities with your kids or use them at a Family Day event.
  5. Connect with us! Like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates, parenting tips, and creative ways to engage with your kids.
  6. Join parents all over the country and take our Family Day STAR Pledge. This is your special pledge to keep your kids substance free!
  7. Have you tried our 30 Day Monthly Family Fun Challenge? Each month we post a fun activity on our website for you to do with your family to help you connect with your kids and build stronger relationships. At the end of every month, we ask that you post pictures of your family completing the activity on our Facebook page or email them to FamilyDay@casacolumbia.org. There’s still time to do the August challenge!
  8. Help us promote Family Day in your community. You can include it in your newsletter or on your website. For sample copy, click here.
  9. Use our conversation starters around the dinner table or any time you’re spending quality time with your kids.
  10. Learn more about substance use with our FAQ’s on Drug and Alcohol Use. Our FAQ’s will prepare you to answer your kids’ questions about drugs and alcohol and teach them about the consequences of adolescent substance use.

We look forward to hearing about how you’ll be celebrating Family Day this September and all throughout the year! Let us know about your plans by leaving a comment below.


  1. Dr. H writes:

    EASY – I will be making my college health students aware of CASAColumbia® Family Day initiative in the hopes that they will communicate with their family members near and afar!! I let them decide how they each can spread the word and do the work that it takes to make their community and families healthier.

  2. casafamilyday writes:

    Thank you, Dr. H, for sharing how you prepare for CASAColumbia Family Day!

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The One Hundred Deadliest Days of Summer for Teen Drivers – How Parents Can Help Keep Their Teens Safe

July 30th, 2015

This month we’re delighted to have, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), as an additional guest blogger to discuss how parents can keep their teen drivers safe during the summer months. Check out the blog below!

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the summer is a time for relaxing, celebrating and getting together with family and friends. It is also the deadliest time for teen drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2012, nearly one thousand people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers. More than half of those killed were teens.

New driver’s inexperience, a host of distractions from technology to other things happening in the car or speeding can contribute to a crash on the best of days. Add in excitement of being out of school for the summer, lack of a structured schedule, multiple celebrations and late night events, not to mention more cars on the roads in general, and you have the one hundred deadliest days of summer for teens.

To help save lives, many states have implemented graduated licensing (GDL) programs to help new drivers gain experience while they ease into the full responsibility of driving a car.  In MA, any motor vehicle operator or motorcyclist between the ages of 16 ½ and 18 is considered a Junior Operator and are subject to restrictions that affect motor vehicle operation. Parents as well as their teen drivers should know and follow the laws in their state. To see if your state has graduated licensing laws, visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

Establishing and enforcing driving laws are just one part of an effective coalition to help save young lives during summer. Parents have more influence on their teen’s decision-making than they might think. Teen drivers get safe driving examples from many places: television ads, driving instructors, and their friends. But no one has more influence over their future driving than their parents.

The best teacher of a new driver is a good role model. Well before a teen is preparing to get their learner’s permit, parents should be watching their own behaviors to ensure they are following all rules of the road.

In our most recent survey of high school juniors and seniors, we found that a high percentage of teens report that their parents engage in unsafe driving behavior and those teens repeat their parents’ poor driving habits in nearly equal amounts.

            Liberty Mutual Insurance/SADD Teen Driving Survey

Parental Driving Behavior Teen Driving Behavior
(observed by teens) (self-reported)
Talk on a cell phone while driving       91%       90%
Speed       88%       94%
Text message       59%       78%
Drive without a seatbelt       47%       33%
Drive under the influence of alcohol       20%       15%
Drive under the influence of marijuana       7%       16%


Download the info graphic here.

Although this survey indicates that teens are mirroring unsafe driving habits of their parents, the bright side of these findings is that parents have a very strong influence over their teen’s behavior behind the wheel and can also have a positive impact on their decisions by adhering to the rules expected of their teens.

Past Liberty Mutual and SADD Surveys have also shown that good communication between parents and their teenagers can also have a positive influence on risk taking by their teens. Some guidelines for successfully communication include:

  • Praise your kids for doing the little things than can so easily be taken for granted
  • Make extra effort to understand your teen’s world
  • Set a good example – your kids will do as you do
  • Talk with your kids early and often about tough topics
  • Teach your kids to listen by listening to what they have to say
  • Read between the lines – your children may find it hard at times to say what’s on their mind
  • Always remember the importance of reasoning
  • Lighten up – take time out if you need to
  • Be prepared to let some things go, and take advantage of opportunities to make a positive point
  • Respect your child – try to work together as partners
  • Remind your child that you love them and care about their safety
  • Don’t ever give up – know that it is getting better with every passing day, as long as you continue to make the effort

See more research here.

As much as we all cherish summer traditions, it’s my sincere hope that parents and teens will use the information included in this article to help put an end to this particular one.

SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is the nation’s leading youth peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to the health and safety of young people. Founded in 1981 as Students Against Driving Drunk, today SADD has hundreds of thousands of student leaders actively participating in thousands of high school and middle school SADD chapters across the country. SADD highlights prevention of many destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including risky and impaired driving, underage drinking, other drug use, and teen violence and suicide. To learn more, visit www.sadd.org.

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7 Ways to Connect Daily with Your Kids

July 13th, 2015

This month we’re delighted to have Family Day Mom Blogger, Amy Roskelley, discuss seven ways she connects daily with her kids. Amy blogs at Super Healthy Kids, where she shares ideas to help kids eat healthier food, and strategies for families to have more meals together! Check out the blog below!

It feels like overnight, my daughter went from following me everywhere I went like a shadow, to avoiding me because everything I do is “so embarrassing!” Why can’t I sing Wham’s ”Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in front of her friends?

Seriously though, I remember thinking, “If she could just leave me alone for a few minutes, we’d all be in a better mood.” Now the tables have turned. I’d give anything to follow her around! I’m trying to hold on to every moment my kids will give me. There isn’t much time left and they’ll move out, and the house will be too quiet.

While vacation time gives us a chance to bond with our kids, they aren’t frequent enough for forming deep connections with them. Connecting with your kids daily, however can have a huge impact! I’ve identified 7 things we can do every day to connect. These 7 things  won’t take much time or cause too much teenage distress, but at the same time, will help us reconnect as often as we can.

1) Dinner

The easiest way for me to connect each day with my kids is at meal time. They just keep coming back to the house to eat, no matter where they’ve been! I couldn’t be happier. I love sitting around the table and asking about their day. They put their phones away for at least 15 minutes and have a conversation with me. Every summer we are a host family for a high school student from a small city in Japan. They go to classes during the day, but they often join us during the evenings for dinner.  My kids love that we do this, and it gives us a chance to learn about another culture together!

2) Bedtime

No matter what time the kids get home at night, we are waiting for them. It wouldn’t feel right to go to bed and not know if they’ve made it home safely, so we’ve always had them check in at night. This gives us a chance to connect one last time and know they can talk to me if they need to talk.

3) Hugs

Kids are never too old for hugs! What a fabulous way to connect every single day!  Kids need affection from their parents. They need human touch, and they need to feel love and acceptance. This can literally be all communicated with a meaningful hug!

4) Be at the crossroads

We call the “crossroads” the place where the kids come and go. Whether it’s leaving for school in the morning, coming home in the afternoon, coming home from a date or work, it’s important to be at those intersections. Can you stick around to see the kids off to school, or can one parent be home when they return? As many crossroads as you can be at, the better. Kids feel safe when they know a parent will be there.

5) Prayers or other rituals

Whether you are religious or not, families have rituals that strengthen bonds and relationships. For us, it’s prayer. When we can give our thanks before a meal or before bedtime together, we connect!

6) Cooking

The kitchen is the hub of our home. At any given moment, you will find at least one of us there. Usually it’s me! But often, the kids will want to cook with me, especially if we’re baking cookies. They know, the child that helps, is also the child that gets to lick the bowl. Cooking truly gives us a chance to talk, without any awkwardness whatsoever.

7) Cleaning

I saved cleaning for last, because although it’s not our teenagers’ favorite activity, we feel strongly that a family that works together is happier! Work instills confidence and self-esteem in kids. Working together as a family, helps us to grow in this way, together.

So, as you can see, we don’t have to take a trip to Hawaii to connect with our kids.  We can connect every single day. And whether it’s over food, fun, or even hard work, everything you do with your kids brings you closer together.


  1. Ramon Montoya MSW writes:

    Wow these are great tips especially for the parents that have younger kids nearing this developmental stage.

    It was an eye opener for me and I know child development stages. My son just turned 13 and I remember his behavioural changes starting at about age 9 to 10… Working with dads in the past parenting classes I always shared this with our participants…

  2. casafamilyday writes:

    Thank you for your feedback, Ramon!

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Why it’s Important to Keep Dad Engaged

June 11th, 2015

When Mom is engaged, children benefit. But when Mom and Dad are both engaged, their Parent Power is amplified: fathers who are involved in their children’s daily lives and keep open lines of communication sharply reduce their children’s risk of substance abuse.

Too often, Mom is the only engaged parent. In our surveys, teens—both boys and girls—are more likely to report having an excellent relationship with their mother than their father. When we ask teens who have never smoked marijuana, “Why?” they tend to credit their decisions to their mothers. When we ask teens to whom they turn to discuss something very serious, they overwhelmingly answer “Mom.”

Children need their fathers to be there day after day, talking, listening, teaching, supporting, encouraging, and loving them. Mom needs Dad to be there too. If Dad is not engaged, Mom has no support in parenting: making decisions, setting rules, enforcing consequences, setting a good example. Children in two-parent families who report only poor or fair relationships with their fathers are at a higher risk for substance abuse then those in single-parent families who have an excellent relationship with their mother or father.

What if Dad can’t make it home in time for dinner? Perhaps he can help the kids with their homework later in the evening or spend time with the kids on the weekends. There are many activities that can help Dad engage with the kids such as: playing sports or games, taking walks, coaching a team, collecting things together, driving the kids to and from activities, or taking weekend or longer trips. Any of these activities gives Dad a chance to show his interest in his children’s hobbies, friends, schoolwork, and development.

It is essential that fathers, as well as mothers, lay a foundation of frequent and open communication with their children, that they talk and listen to them, set a good example with their own behavior, and that both fathers and mothers give the same consistent messages about not smoking, drinking, or using drugs.

Of course, not every family has two parents. In twenty-first century America, there are all kinds of families. What counts is the engagement of the family heads—and the consistency of their messages about alcohol and drug use. An engaged single parent is more effective than disengaged fathers and mothers in two-parent families.

How does Dad stay engaged in your family? Tell us in the comments section below.


  1. Ramon Montoya writes:

    A good blog for the week before Fathers Day…. IF dad is the non – custodial parent he needs to cooperation of mom for shared parenting time.

    Staying engaged with our children is possible by making them the
    number 1 priority. Not letting work get in the way and planning activities with our children is important. There are many free activities to do with our children. We don’t need to spend money to make them happy. Go to the park, library, walk, cook a meal together.

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Should you Tell Your Kids about any Family History of Addiction?

May 28th, 2015

Many families have at least one member who has struggled with the disease of addiction. Perhaps you have a grandfather who drank heavily every night, an uncle who never grew out of smoking pot every day, a grandmother who died of lung cancer or emphysema because she didn’t quit smoking, or an elderly aunt who constantly pops tranquilizers, to the family’s great amusement or alarm. If you’re not sure about your own family history, ask some relatives, do a little investigating.

If there is anyone in your family who has struggled with addiction, your child may be at increased risk of substance abuse and addiction.

Genetics as well as social and family environmental factors can play a large role in the transmission of tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction from one generation to the next. Parents, family, friends, and the community all influence whether a child decides to experiment with substances.

However, once a child has begun to smoke, drink, or use other drugs, genetic factors can influence, perhaps determine, whether that child’s use will descend into abuse or addiction.  Similarly, the ability to tolerate a substance without becoming impaired may be strongly influenced by genetic makeup, which in turn may increase your child’s tendency to abuse substances.

Don’t overlook or conceal your family’s history of substance abuse. The same genetic predisposition that influenced one family member to drink too much may lead another to become addicted to marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.

When you talk to your children about not smoking, drinking, or using other drugs, tell them about the family risk – that addiction is a disease and that it has a genetic component. You could also mention it during your child’s pediatric exam: “Doctor, I have something to share with you and my son about our family’s medical history.”

You and your children should not feel somehow doomed and marked by such a family history. As with any other disease that is linked to genetics – cancer, heart disease, diabetes—environment and lifestyle factors play a role in whether your child will develop the disease of addiction.

If this disease runs in your family, your children can choose, for example, not to drink – and you should be vigilant to watch out for the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. To learn more about those warning signs, click here.

Have you already talked to your kids about your family’s history with addiction? How did it go?


  1. renee writes:

    very good advice!

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Think It’s Too Early to Start Talking about Drinking? Think Again.

May 18th, 2015

This month we’re delighted to have Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services share information on the role parents can play in underage drinking prevention, as part of SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week, which will be observed from May 17th – May 23rd. SAMHSA’s Talk. They Hear You. campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early—as early as 9 years old—about the dangers of alcohol. Check out the blog below!

Underage drinking is a serious problem in the United States, and often starts much earlier than most parents realize:

  • 10 percent of 9- to 10-year-olds have already started drinking.[i]
  • More than 20 percent of underage drinkers begin drinking before age 13.[ii]
  • 92 percent of the alcohol consumed by 12- to 14-year-olds is in the form of binge drinking.[iii]

But studies show that parents do have a significant influence on young people’s decision to drink.[iv]  In fact, 80 percent of kids believe their parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol.[v],[vi]

Your kids and teens are listening, and it’s critical that you send a clear and strong message. Parents who do not discourage underage drinking may have an indirect influence on young people’s decision to drink.[vii] So, it’s important to learn more about the dangers of underage drinking and talk to your kids early and often. It’s also important to know the facts:

  • Children who use alcohol:
    • Have higher rates of academic problems and poor school performance compared with nondrinkers;[viii]
    • Are more likely to be sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex; [ix],[x]and
    • Are more likely to have health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.[xi]
    • Children who are frequent binge drinkers (nearly 1 million high school students nationwide) are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.[xii]

Sitting down to discuss underage drinking can be intimidating and awkward for everyone. Try using everyday opportunities to talk—in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV. Having lots of little talks takes the pressure off trying to get all of the information out in one lengthy discussion, and your kids will be less likely to tune you out.

To help prepare for this conversation, check out SAMHSA’s Talk. They Hear You. app, available for download on iTunes, Google Play, the Windows Phone, and Windows Store. This free app uses avatars to help parents practice bringing up the topic of alcohol, learn the questions to ask, and get ideas for keeping the conversation going. Check out this quick video that highlights ways you can use the Talk. They Hear You. app to prepare for one of the most important conversations you may ever have.

SAMHSA’s Talk. They Hear You. website includes a number of resources to help parents address the issue of underage drinking and begin the conversation with their kids about the dangers of alcohol.


Donovan, J., Leech, S., Zucker, R., Loveland-Cherry, C., Jester, J., Fitzgerald, H., et al.  (2004).  Really underage drinkers: Alcohol use among elementary students.  Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28(2), 341–349.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2012).  Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2011.  Surveillance Summaries.  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 61, SS-4, 1–162.

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. (2002). Drinking in America: Myths, realities, and prevention policy. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Nash, S. G., McQueen, A., & Bray, J. H.  (2005). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Family environment, peer influence, and parental expectations.  Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Educators. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2007.

Jackson, C. (2002). Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(5), 425–432.

Sieving, R. E., Maruyama, G., Williams, C. L., & Perry, C. L.  (2000). Pathways to adolescent alcohol use: Potential mechanisms of parent influence.  Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10(4), 489–514.

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