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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Love, Drinking and Drugs - That Transition Year

Research shows that the transition from middle to high school is an extremely vulnerable one for adolescents. In our book, Delaying that First Drink: A Parents Guide, I interviewed two recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, both who began drinking early in high school.

Both were quiet somewhat reticent, but very bright kids, from families with major addiction problems. The young guy said what tipped him over the age was transitioning from a private, very small middle school, to a high school with 900 kids. The young woman said she went to boarding school for high school, developed a new group of friends who were heavy partiers, and fell fast and furious.

I've been thinking about high school and drinking a lot because I've a 15 year-old son whose friends are definitely drinking. Awhile ago, I put what was left of a case of beer in the basement and found a couple of empty cans in a bathroom. He explained the cans (he had an ill-fated party months ago and no one really uses that bathroom), but when I checked on the case it was empty.

Yes you heard me, empty. My son was at a friend's house and I called him and told him to get home immediately, which he did. His explanation: He is not drinking because he had tried it and had a really bad experience with it. His mom has a similar story from high school. But in order to get into high school parties,  they have to pay at the door or bring booze. So he's been sneaking the alcohol out and using it to get in.

Did he get in trouble? Of course. Did I freak out completely? No. Why? Because he's a good kid who gets good grades, is holding down a full-time job for most of the summer and I don't see any evidence of alcohol or drugs when he comes home at night. 

So what's a parent to do. I don't know. Talk, watch, listen, trust to some extent, read the Facebook pages to keep up. Teenage boys don't exactly confide in their moms, but we do talk and the lines of communication are always open. Keep them that way.

Oh and yelling and screaming really doesn't work. It just starts bitter, angry fights that can cause really lasting damage to your relationship. Instead, take a deep breath, walk out of the room and talk when you are both calm. It's much better and life is a lot less stressful.

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