Leading By Example: A Summer Guide For Parents and Caregivers

Jun 7, 2024

Authored by: Joseph Vano (Prevention Strategies Manager at the Partnership for Public Health Prevention Strategies)

Summer, with its warm sun and longer days, invites us to enjoy outdoor activities and create lasting memories. As parents and caregivers, it’s essential to set a positive example for the young people in our lives, especially regarding alcohol use. The way we handle drinking can significantly influence their choices and behavior.

Teen Alcohol Consumption in New Hampshire

Like many states, New Hampshire (NH) faces its own challenges when it comes to teen alcohol consumption. According to the 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, about one in four NH high school teens (23%) reported having at least one drink in the last 30 days. The same survey showed that among youth who drink, 39%% indicated that someone else gave them alcohol. Teens often access alcohol through social sources, including friends and family.

It’s a common misconception that alcohol use is a rite of passage for teenagers. This belief can lead to more lenient attitudes towards underage drinking, increasing the risk of alcohol-related harm. Addressing this misconception is part of the Stronger Than You Think campaign, which provides resources and education to challenge these norms and support healthier choices.

As responsible adults, it’s our job to prevent teens from accessing alcohol and to educate them on the risks of underage drinking. Together, we can create a safer and healthier environment for our youth.

Encourage Sober Gatherings

teens in pool playing ballHosting sober social gatherings is an effective prevention strategy. Organize picnics, barbecues, or beach days that focus on food, games, and quality time. You might also consider participating in community activities such as local cleanups or volunteering for causes you care about. These intentional choices create memorable experiences for you and your family that prioritize health and well-being. If you’re looking for ideas, check out Visit NH or NPR’s Community Calendar for activities and events happening throughout the summer.

When hosting or attending gatherings, an effective way to model responsible behavior is by choosing a mocktail over an alcoholic drink option. Mocktails are delicious, non-alcoholic beverages that are just as refreshing as their alcoholic counterparts! These drinks offer a healthy and fun alternative, perfect for any summer occasion. Stock your cooler with these tasty options to enjoy the flavor of summer without the risks associated with alcohol and the risk of accidentally providing alcohol to a minor – which comes with its own set of consequences (more about social hosting laws here.)

Recognize the Risks of Alcohol Consumption

For those who choose to drink, it’s important to be aware of the heightened risks associated with alcohol consumption in the summer heat. Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents. Summer activities such as boating, swimming, and driving can become dangerous when alcohol is involved.

Data from the United States Coast Guard reports that alcohol is the leading known contributor of fatal boating accidents. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights that alcohol is involved in up to 70% of water recreation deaths among adults and teenagers. During the summer, there is also a noticeable increase in alcohol-related car accidents; drunk driving fatalities rise by about 29% (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). By demonstrating moderation and caution, you can set a responsible example for young people.

Help Prepare Teens for Social Gatherings

two teens tubing outside lakeIf your teen is headed out of the house this summer without you, it’s important to set clear boundaries and keep close track of them. Showing the youth in your life that you care and love them will make it less likely they will drink alcohol underage.

Start by knowing where they are going, who they will be with, and if alcohol will be present. Get to know their friends and their parents. Make it clear to their parents where you stand about underage drinking and other substance use. Talk with them ahead of time to make a plan so that they can let you know if they become uncomfortable and secretly ask to be picked up.

Create a Positive Impact

By embracing a sober or moderate approach to summer fun, you can ensure that your season is filled with joy, safety, and unforgettable moments. Your actions as parents and caregivers have a profound impact. By modeling healthy behaviors and making responsible choices, you set a strong example for the young people in your life. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and responsible summer!


Resources & Supports

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, seek local support or call 2-1-1 for assistance. Your health matters, and there are resources available to help you on your journey.

For more tips on preventing underage drinking, check out these resources:

  • SAMHSA’s Talk. They Hear You. Campaign: SAMHSA’s national youth substance use prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers, educators, and community members get informed, be prepared, and take action to prevent underage drinking and other substance use.
  • The Partnership NH’s Resources for Parents and Caregivers: Here you can find information on adolescent and young adult alcohol and other drug use, how to talk to your children about alcohol and other drug use and how to keep them safe, and where to go if you are looking to find help as a parent or caretaker.
  • The Partnership NH’s Safe Celebrations Webpage: Safe celebrations are possible for teens with adult guidance and expectations. Protect the young people in your life by learning some of the guiding principles and starting the conversation now.

Subscribe and Get The Latest Blog Alerts & Other Updates

* indicates required
Notification Preferences