This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their Ask, Listen, Learn program. Now is a good time to start a conversation with your kids about alcohol!
There seems to be a shift in everything as soon as school starts back up. Suddenly, the days feel shorter and the nights are cooler and everyone is doing their best to get settled into a new routine.
For parents, it can be a bittersweet time. We send our kids out of the house for hours at a time in the care of their teachers. During that time, we hope that they’ll be educated, nurtured, and put on the path to maturing. But that requires work at home as well.
In my home, our recipe for success begins with a routine we can all agree on. My son is 10 years old now and has just started 5th grade so he’s old enough to contribute to how we want to structure our days.
Before school started, we organized his supplies and talked about the types of lunches he wanted to eat every day (and how much food he’ll need since he’s a growing boy!). We planned out our breakfasts and talked about the best time for him to do his homework every day.
Many parents have a structured home where homework comes first. In our household, I know my son. He’s an introvert (like his mom) and he needs some mental down time when he gets home from school. We’ve agreed that he can have an hour of playtime before focusing on what needs to get done.
As he enters 5th grade, the freedom and independence he has been given at home is also being matched at school. As 5th graders, he and his classmates are allowed to sit next to whoever they choose at lunch instead of who was in their previous class. They are allowed more structured play outside (like football and basketball games).
The teachers are also asking the students, and parents, to fill out a survey about the upcoming year. For my son, he was responsible for filling out a self-evaluation form about what he likes and dislikes at school, what he hopes to learn, what he thinks he’s good at. I had to fill out a similar questionnaire and it was a great exercise for several reasons.
It really made me stop and think about the type of kid my son is, how he learns best, and what kind of situations can be taxing for him, both socially and academically. Then, with his permission, I asked if I could see the answers that he wrote about himself and I was pretty pleased that our answers were similar.
As a parent, of course, I have more insight into who he is as a person and who he is becoming. I’ve gotten to know his friends and I spend plenty of time having conversations with all of them (and surprisingly, it’s not just about video games or sports). By doing this, I’m hoping to keep the door open for more important conversations about friendship, peer pressure, and the inevitable pressures of underage drinking.
As our kids spread their wings each year, we’re typically invited to meet and greet at the school, talk to the teachers, and look at academic expectations. We need to make sure we’re doing the same with their social situations by talking about the other aspects of school that can’t be shown on a report card.
If you’re wondering when the best time is to have difficult conversations, especially about alcohol, with your tween, NOW is a good time to start. Ask Listen Learn provides valuable resources and conversation starters about underage drinking for parents, teachers, and kids.