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Offers Tips to Parents When Approaching Underage Drinking 

This month, Proud Eagle, Inc., West Virginia’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor, joins with organizations across the nation to recognize April as National Alcohol Awareness Month. 

For nearly thirty years, businesses and organizations throughout the country, such as Proud Eagle, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), and the Center for Alcohol Policy have sponsored and participated in Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness of the problems that alcohol abuse can cause for individuals, their families and their communities. 

“Parents play a vital role in providing their kids with an understanding of alcohol and the impacts it could have on their lives,” said Jim Linsenmeyer, chief operating officer and principal manager partner of Proud Eagle, Inc. “Alcohol use by young people is reckless, to both themselves and to society. Parents are faced with a significant challenge, they can either sit back and hope that their kids can make the right decisions or they can take an active role in learning about alcohol and helping their kids do the same.” 

As your children become curious about alcohol, they may turn to you for answers and advice. Use this opportunity to start an open and honest ongoing dialogue about drinking. With this year’s theme, “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use,” Proud Eagle and national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have provided tips on how to answer six frequent questions your children may have regarding alcohol:

“I got invited to a party. Can I go?”

Ask your children if an adult will be present at the party or if they think other children will be drinking. Remind them that even being at a party where there is underage drinking can get them into trouble. Use this time to establish or reinforce your rules about alcohol and outline the behavior you’d expect from them. 

“Did you drink when you were a kid?”

Don’t let your past stop you from talking to your children about underage drinking. If you drank as a teenager, be honest. Acknowledge that it was risky and not worth it. Make sure you emphasize that we now know even more about the risks to children who drink underage. You can even give your child an example of a painful moment that occurred because of your underage drinking. 

“Why do you drink?”

Make a distinction between alcohol use among children and among adults. Explain to your children your reasons for drinking: whether it is to enhance a meal, share good times with friends, or celebrate a special occasion. Point out that if you choose to drink, it is always in moderation and done responsibly. Tell your children that some people should not drink at all, including underage children. 

“What if my friends ask me to drink?”

Helping your children say “no” to peer pressure is one of the most important things you can do to keep him or her alcohol-free. Work with your child to think of a way to handle this situation, whether it is simply saying “No, I don’t drink,” or saying, “I promised my parents that I wouldn’t drink.” 

“You drink alcohol, so why can’t I?”

Remind your children that underage drinking is against the law, and for good reason. Point out that adults are fully developed mentally and physically so they can handle drinking. Children’s minds and bodies, however, are still growing and developing, so alcohol can have a greater effect on their judgement and health. 

“Why is alcohol bad for me?”

Don’t try to scare your children about drinking or tell him or her, “You can’t handle it.” Instead, tell them that alcohol can be bad for his or her growing brain, interferes with judgement, and can make them sick. Once children hear the facts and your opinion about them, it is easier for you to make rules and enforce them.

It can be a daunting task to stay proactive in your children’s social lives and to talk to them about drinking and drug use, but it is worth the effort. Research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t have such conversations. 

About Proud Eagle, Inc:

Proud Eagle was founded in 2008 with the purchase of the Anheuser-Busch rights for the Charleston and Parkersburg, WV, markets and is the largest beer wholesaler in West Virginia, covering all or parts of 14 counties. Proud Eagle is part of The Rucker Group, a network of WV beer wholesalers that covers 40% of the state, and accounts for one out of four beers sold in the entire state. Proud Eagle is dedicated to the communities in which they operate by sponsoring numerous community events, safe ride programs and other initiatives relating to alcohol awareness and responsible drinking. 

To learn more about Alcohol Awareness Month or Proud Eagle's long tradition of community involvement, please contact Jan Vineyard at jan@omegawv.com or Jim Linsenmeyer at jiml@proudeagleinc.com.

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