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PowerTalk 21—the National Day for Parents to Talk with Kids about Alcohol

As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. When they are little, it's difficult to comprehend that we will have to worry about the things they will go through when they become teenagers. I have 4 children and one of the best things I did for them was have them participate in Walk Like MADD 3 years in a row. They'd heard the stories about my friend Kevin who was killed by a drunk driver, their aunt who was hit, in a coma and fortunately survived, my aunt who lost her one week old baby girl and her husband and almost died herself. But seeing the pictures and hearing loved ones talk about their losses, seeing hundreds of people come together trying to end drunk driving accidents and fatalities, that was what stuck with them. At the time we did the walks, my oldest was nearing 16 and I felt it was important for her to know that kids her age are not invincible. They can and do die.

A scheduling conflict has kept us from from continuing to participate in Walk Like MADD but the times we were there stuck with my kids. They are now 23, 20, 13 and 10. When my oldest went to college, she became a designated driver for many of her friends. Multiple times she was woken up at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am to pick up a friend. She made sure she had a designated driver when she'd go out drinking.

Talk to your children, not at them. They are smart. Keep talking to them. Be annoying. Be blunt. Show them pictures of cars and funerals for kids their age. Have them read the news stories. Let them know that they can call you if they need a ride home. You may not only save your child's life, you may save the lives of others. The following is from Power Talk 21 and is a message to you and your children.

Of all the dangers your teen faces, underage drinking is among the worst. Compared with non-drinking classmates, teens who drink are more likely to:

  • Die in a car crash

  • Get pregnant

  • Flunk school

  • Be sexually assaulted

  • Become an alcoholic later in life

  • Take their own life through suicide

The good news is that you can make a difference! Parents have the power to help teens make healthy decisions that can keep them safe. In fact, research shows that parents are the primary influence on their kids’ decisions about whether or not to drink alcohol.

PowerTalk 21 day—April 21st—is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol. MADD knows that informed, caring parents can make a difference, and we’re here to help. Download the latest version of the Power of Parents handbook for tips and tools to help you start the potentially lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your teens. If you download the handbook in the month of April, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an iPad! You can also find additional tips and expert resources at

MADD offers 30-minute Parent Workshops in communities across the country where parents and caregivers will receive tips and tools for talking about alcohol with your teen, including a hard copy of the parent handbook. Contact your local or state office to find a parent workshop near you. You can also find out about becoming a trained and certified Power of Parent facilitator and present this potentially lifesaving, research based information to parents and caregivers in your community.

Help us spread the word about PowerTalk 21 using our sample Tweets and Facebook posts, share your experience talking with your teen about alcohol, and find other great resources

Start talking on April 21st. Together, we can help prevent underage drinking and save lives.

Jan Withers

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