Underage drinking is not something most parents believe that their teens engage in. They are well aware that people need to be 21 years old to drink, and they’re confident that their child will follow the rules. They’ve talked about it extensively.
While it’s true that some teens wait, parents need to know that the National Institutes of Health indicate that most people drink earlier than 21. In fact, some studies have pinned the average age of that first drink at just 17 years old, meaning the child could spend the next four years engaging in underage drinking. Some start far earlier than that.
Why does this matter for parents?
The biggest reason parents need to know about this is so that they can continue to talk with their teens. Encouraging safe behavior is important, and they can stress all of the legal ramifications of underage drinking — and the impact those could have on the rest of the young person’s life. Will they have trouble getting into college, getting a career they want, or exploring other opportunities with a criminal record? Is there a risk of a drunk driving accident? These are big points to bring up.
Additionally, though, parents just need to know that this behavior is normal. It happens, even if it’s hard for them to imagine their own child doing it. If an arrest is made, it’s crucial for the whole family to know what legal options exist. If they are ready for this, they may be able to find solutions that will not have such a drastic impact on the teen’s future.