Journey into heart-to-heart parenting.

There are no perfect answers when it comes to helping your teen make good choices about drinking. However, there is a style of parenting that has been proven to dramatically reduce the chances that your teen will choose to binge-drink. Officially known as "authoritative" parenting, we prefer to call it something a bit more personal: heart-to-heart parenting. What's the heart-to-heart parenting style look like? You can check out the details on parenting styles here.

But to make it even easier, here's an interactive, heart-to-heart Q&A that should help you develop, or just fine-tune, the parenting style that works to curb teen drinking.

My teen is:

(Choose one)
Male
Female

Start your heart-to-heart journey.

1. You and your teen are watching TV. A beer commercial catches their attention and makes them laugh. Do you:
  1. Tell them to change the channel until the commercial is over.
  2. Engage them in casual conversation about what they found so amusing.
  3. Laugh along. No big deal.

Best Answer

B

A parent using the heart-to-heart parenting style understands that their teen will be bombarded by outside influences and pressures to drink, but uses them as teachable moments to openly discuss drinking choices and consequences.

The heart-to-heart parent encourages their teen to express opinions and feelings.
An engaged, heart-to-heart parenting style not only reduces the chances that your teen will binge drink, it also promotes a healthier body image, healthier decision making, and the likelihood of academic success.
(Sources; Patock-Peckham and Morgan-Lopez, 2007. Steinberg et al., 1992).
2. One afternoon, you find empty beer cans in your teen’s room.
  1. Immediately punish the teen and establish stricter rules — no discussion or complaints allowed.
  2. Let it go this time. Making it an issue will just cause them to rebel.
  3. Talk to your teen about what is and isn't permissible. Create clear boundaries and clear consequences.

Best Answer

C

For a heart-to-heart parent, uncomfortable conversations come with the territory. Setting boundaries and sticking to them—but also encouraging a two-way discussion—will help your teen understand that their choices have consequences.

The heart-to-heart parent establishes firm and fair boundaries for their teen.
3. At dinner, your teen asks about your own history with drinking when you were young.
  1. Tell them it doesn't matter what you did. What matters is their behavior, right now.
  2. Honestly recount some of your own experiences and/or regrets with alcohol. Then ask them about their own opinion on teen drinking.
  3. Tell them your history, but make the point that drinking is a personal decision.

Best Answer

B

Talking about your own past choices, good and bad, will create a more authentic connection with your teen for having an honest conversation about drinking. In fact, 83% of teens say that parents are the single most powerful influence when it comes to making choices about drinking.

The heart-to-heart parent wants their teen to be independent and think for themselves.
The heart-to-heart parenting style means showing your teen high levels of warmth and connection, but also holding them accountable for their actions. And it works. Teens with heart-to-heart parents are less likely to have friends that drink, are less likely to binge drink themselves, and are less likely to engage in other risky behaviors.
4. Your teen has been invited to an all-night gaming party at another teen’s home.
  1. Say you'll consider it. But only after you confirm with their parents that alcohol won't be involved.
  2. Deny their request. An all-night party is setting your teen up for too much temptation.
  3. Tell them to enjoy their night, have fun and stay safe.

Best Answer

A

When in doubt, heart-to-heart parents adopt a trust but verify tactic. This lets your teen know that you respect their desire to experience freedom, but in safe environments.

The heart-to-heart parent is proactive, staying out ahead of potential problems.
5. Your teen is busted for possession of alcohol in the school parking lot.
  1. Enforce a strict punishment. Let them know how ashamed you are of their behavior.
  2. Talk to them about the school’s zero-tolerance policy for alcohol. Depending on the circumstances, enforce a punishment.
  3. Let them know that this behavior will not be tolerated, but also listen to their side of the story. Enforce previously established consequences, then discuss with your teen ways they can rebuild trust.

Best Answer

C

Just because your teen screws up doesn’t mean they are a lost cause. Your involvement and intervention as a heart-to-heart parent can make a big difference in them making better decisions in the future.

With discipline, the heart-to-heart parent is consistent, consistent, consistent.

7 keys to heart-to-heart parenting:

  1. Listen with an open heart
  2. Set clear boundaries and expectations
  3. Enforce firm, fair consequences
  4. Be consistent
  5. Understand that every teen is different
  6. Work toward solutions, not just fixes
  7. Encourage your teen’s independence

Learn even more about the heart-to-heart and other parenting styles here.

Download the fridge list.