As a parent, you should take a stand, talk together and make agreements with your teenager about alcohol. This is the message from ‘Full of Life’, the Danish Cancer Society and the TrygFondens alcohol initiative. High alcohol consumption in adolescence can have serious consequences.
Do you and your teenager have clear agreements about alcohol? If not, it’s a good idea to get it – because young people who have agreements with their parents about alcohol drink less than other young people.
Only 27 per cent of young people living at home have agreements with their parents about alcohol. This is shown by figures from the report ‘Young people’s alcohol habits 2021’, which the Cancer Society and TrygFonden are behind. And this is even though 8 out of 10 actually state that they have talked to their parents about alcohol.
Alcohol habits are formed in youth
There is good reason to make agreements with your teenager about alcohol, because high alcohol consumption in adolescence can have serious consequences. For example, it increases the risk of accidents, violence and conflict.
“Parents play a crucial role when it comes to young people’s drinking habits. We are role models for our children, and at the same time it is our responsibility to create a framework within which our children can act when it comes to alcohol,” says Peter Dalum, project manager at the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden’s alcohol initiative ‘Full of Life’.
In 2018, 1,722 young people aged 15-24 had contact with the hospital because of alcohol, and every month alcohol is responsible for an average of one death among young people. In the long run, alcohol increases the risk of over 200 conditions and diseases, including at least seven different types of cancer. And young people who start drinking alcohol early, and drink a lot of alcohol, have an increased risk of high alcohol consumption later in life.
Father and son have signed contract on alcohol
17-year-old Johannes Rosengren and his father Jacob are both featured in the ‘Full of Life’ initiative’s new campaign film, which puts alcohol agreements into a football setting: Here, an alcohol contract between teenager and parents is portrayed as a contract between a football club and a young professional footballer. Denmark’s football commentator Flemming Toft takes part in the film to create the right atmosphere. Watch the campaign film here:
For father and son, however, alcohol deals are not just something that happens in front of the cameras. At home, too, they talk a lot about alcohol and the harm it can cause.
Just like in the film, we have an agreement at home that Johannes has to be home by 2am; unless he’s sleeping at a friend’s or girlfriend’s house. And then he must not drink himself senseless, says father Jacob Rosengren.
Johannes Rosengren is happy that they have an open dialogue about alcohol in the family:
“It means a lot to me that we can talk about anything alcohol-related at home. There’s nothing I really have to keep secret. Our agreement makes it a bit more manageable to know when I need to be at home. It also means you don’t have to constantly write to your parents. When I’m at a party, I know what my parents expect,” says Johannes Rosengren, and continues:
“Maybe I don’t keep the agreement completely every time, but I try.”
Get help talking to your teenager
It can be difficult for parents to talk about alcohol when their children suddenly become teenagers who go to parties and drink alcohol. How to bring up the subject? And does my child even listen to me? These are some completely natural questions to ask yourself. But luckily there is help available. At www.alkoholdning.dk, parents can get inspiration for taking a stand, talking together and making agreements with their teenager about alcohol. It is the Cancer Foundation and TrygFonden’s alcohol charity ‘Full of life’ that are behind it.
Visit https://www.alkoholdning.dk/ to find more (Denmark, November 2022)