Raising your daughter

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How do I stop my daughter drinking?

Written by Alison Morris on 15/12/2009

Q. I grounded my daughter for a month for drinking alcohol, the grounding finished today & I let her out with her friends. I got a call off the police tonight who had my daughter for being drunk & disorderly, I was so ashamed, she was also sick in the van & I have to pay the cleaning bill. I cant beleive she has done this again after promising she wouldnt do it again, never mind on the 1st night. what can I do this time. I’m at my wits end…

A. Young women’s drinking habits are certainly a cause for concern and I can understand how worried you must be. Grounding your daughter hasn’t worked so a different approach is necessary. Although it is a relatively easy and tempting punishment, grounding pushes her away. She will be angry with you for what she thinks she is missing out on and may want to rebel further. You need her to reflect on her behaviour. You don’t say how old your daughter is but even if she is in her late teens she should be learning to drink responsibly.

The first step is for you to talk with her. Try to stay calm and explain why you are so concerned about her apparent inability to control her drinking. Remind her how vulnerable she is when she is out of control while under the influence of alcohol, tell her what could happen to her and that this is why you are so desperately worried about her behaviour. Emphasise your fears for her safety rather than your disgust and embarrassment at her lack of control.

Keep talking with her, listen to her and make it easy for her to come home to you, even if drunk. Negotiate boundaries, for instance she should always keep you informed about whom she goes out with, where she is going and you should agree the time when she will come home.

Just as you cannot make a young child eat, you cannot control a teenager. Your aim should be to enable her to control herself. Be interested in her friends and social life without being too critical – you don’t want her to “go underground” by lying to you. I also recommend that you suggest your daughter takes a look at the alcohol section on talktofrank.com – a website aimed at teenagers rather than their parents.
Finally remember that growing up involves making mistakes and, hopefully, learning from them.

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Your comments

I really don’t agree with the last comment that just because this young girl is going out and drinking she ‘cannot be trusted’. She is simply a normal teenager testing the boundaries and responding to a punishment that she felt unfair.
The comments before from the teenager are very telling and a useful insight into the mind of a teenager. Alison’s comments are very well thought through.
You and your daughter will both benefit from establishing trust and communication. Grounding is not a punishment that can have a positive outcome.
Have you asked her to pay for the fine for vomiting in the police van? I think that could be a good way to make her face up to a form of responsibility and give her a chance to make it up to you in an adult way that she could feel proud of. You need to allow her to redeem herself in your eyes.

I am a teenage girl, and there is no definite way you will stop your daughter drinking. You will only annoy her further if you try to control her, and it will make her hate you. I’ve had experiences, in all honesty none of my experiences have been as serious as your daughter has had, but each to their own. I learnt from my mistakes and took responsibility. I have more easy-going parents and it has worked out for the better. I am allowed to drink in front of them and in the house, so I have learnt my limits in a safer environment. She can only learn from her own mistakes. I have leart from my mistakes, I have regrets, and it is the only way to learn. By getting very drunk and vomiting and passing out, we feel personally bad and responsible for out drinking, embarrass ourselves and our friends will always remind us of it, so we personally vow never to repeat the messy experience. Advising us and being strict will not work. Of course, you can try and give advice, but to us teenagers, it just seems like you are being patronising. We hate people who patronise us. Teenagers like myself will not listen to your advice, however good it is. Perhaps curiosity did kill the cat, but we are curious, and you cannot really help us. Adults drink, so why should we not drink? Even if your daughter is stopped from drinking until the legal age, she will only go crazy when she is allowed to eventually drink, as she has been stopped from doing it. If responsibility is taken away and then suddenly given back, like the USELESS punishment of grounding, which I have never had, responsibility will then be abused, as grounding is just grown-ups abusing their power. It is ridiculous. You will never have any true power over your children after they are teenagers. We like trust. We feel old, stronger and more responsible if you trust us. We all want to grow up quicker, and the more responsibilty and trust you give us, the better. We will become more responsible. If you keep grounding her and being too stict, she will never learn responsibility, she will never change, never leave home, and always rely on you for bailing her out of trouble. By having power over her, you take responsibility for her actions, and therefore the more strict you are with her, the less responsibility she has, the more responsibily you have, and the more it is your fault if she gets into trouble or gets hurt. You are then the one in trouble. It would be your problem. You would have created the problem. Never try to over-contol teenagers or you will lose in the end. Teenagers will always do what they want in the end. Period.

Your daughter clearly cannot be trusted to behave when allowed out on her own. The answer to me appears simple. She is allowed out to supervised activities only. So, if she wishes to go to youth club or an after school activity that is fine. You may wish to drop her off and pick her up to ensure that is where she is going.

If she wants to go ‘out’ but has no solid destination then she doesn’t get to go as she has proved unable to resist temptation. If she isn’t able to handle responsibility, you remove it until she can.

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