Should I Allow My Teen to Drink Over Spring Break? A Parent’s Guide to Making Informed Decisions

As spring break approaches, teens look forward to a well-deserved break from school. Some will travel, some will hang out with friends, and some just want to catch up on sleep. Spring break has a reputation for partying, and as parents, you may wonder, is your teen ready for the pressures of drinking? The reality is that some teens will ask for permission while others may quietly engage in risky behaviors. The topic of teenage drinking can be complex and nuanced, so it is important to have a plan for how you want to broach the subject with your child. You want the door to remain open for conversation instead of your child feeling the need to go behind your back. But what if you don’t want them to consume alcohol? In this blog, we explore the factors that parents should weigh when deciding whether to permit their teen to drink over spring break, offering guidance on making informed decisions that prioritize their child’s well-being.


Understanding the Risks:

Teenage drinking poses various risks to adolescents’ health, safety, and development. If alcoholism runs in your family, education about this disease is crucial for your teen to truly make an informed decision. Alcohol consumption can impair judgment, increase the likelihood of risky behaviors, and lead to accidents or dangerous situations. Parents should be aware of the potential consequences of underage drinking, including legal issues, alcohol poisoning, impaired decision-making, sexual assault, and decreased academic performance. While it can be frightening to imagine our children in any of these situations, these are potential challenges they may encounter as they grow up and are exposed to new things. It is easier to manage this while they are still living at home than to have them face this for the first time when they are away at college.

Open Communication:

Teen drinking can be a taboo subject and difficult to talk about; however, effective communication is key when discussing the topic of alcohol consumption with teenagers. Parents should create a safe and non-judgmental space for their teen to voice their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about drinking over spring break. Engaging in open dialogue allows parents to understand their teenager’s perspective, clarify expectations, and reinforce the importance of responsible decision-making when it comes to alcohol. It is sometimes necessary to bite your tongue when your teen opens up to you, even if you disagree, because that will allow them to feel safe and heard. Listen first and then use curiosity questions to continue the conversation rather than lecturing or inserting your opinion too soon. This will keep the door open for communication and decrease the likelihood of them drinking behind your back.

Setting Clear Expectations:

When making the decision about how you will respond if your teen expresses an interest in drinking over spring break, you might want to think about the following discussion points. If you decide you want to allow your child to drink, what would your expectations be? Has your teen proven that they are trustworthy? And how will the impact of alcohol affect their ability to meet previously agreed-upon terms? Establishing clear boundaries and expectations around alcohol consumption is essential for guiding teenage behavior over spring break. Parents should communicate their stance on underage drinking, outline consequences for violating rules, and empower their teen to make informed choices. Therefore, setting expectations that prioritize safety, respect, and responsible behavior can help teenagers navigate social situations involving alcohol with mindfulness and caution. As hard as it is, it is far better that they are getting information from their parents rather than social media and peers. Education about safe alcohol consumption needs to be a topic that all parents of teens engage in.


Risk Reduction Strategies:

Consider things that you would want your teen to know about alcohol consumption before they leave for college. The following are some curiosity questions to ask your teen when having this discussion:

– How do you know what your tolerance for alcohol is?

– How can you moderate your drinking?

– What will you do at a party if you don’t drink and your friends are?

– How will you get home safely? Who will be the designated driver?

– What do you think the dangers of underage drinking are?

– How will you protect yourself from making decisions while under the influence that you might regret the next day?

– What about sex? How will you handle it if you find yourself in a situation of possibly engaging in sexual activity?

– What do you know about consent and the difficulty of making a good decision for consent when under the influence?

– What sort of communication should we have when you are out? Will you reach out to me if you need help?

– How trustworthy and responsible do you think your friends are?

– Do you trust your friend group to look out for one another and stop someone from engaging in risky behaviors?

– What will you do if one of you drinks too much?


Modeling Responsible Behavior:

Parents play a pivotal role in modeling responsible attitudes and behaviors around alcohol for their teenager. It is important that, as parents, we show them how to best engage with substances through our own actions. Whether it is demonstrating how to say no or modeling what it looks like to set boundaries with friends, your approach will be noticed by your young kids and your teens. By demonstrating healthy attitudes towards drinking, engaging in open conversations about alcohol, and showcasing responsible decision-making, parents can empower their teen to make informed choices and develop a positive relationship with alcohol that prioritizes safety and well-being.

Moral of the story:

The most important things in the decision of when and how to expose your child to alcohol are communication and trust. If you have these two baseline pillars, you can work out any problem that comes up. The decision of whether to allow a teenager to drink over spring break is a personal and individual choice that should be guided by a consideration of all the various factors. By engaging in thoughtful discussions, setting boundaries that prioritize safety, and fostering a culture of responsibility around alcohol, parents can support their teenager in making informed decisions that promote well-being, safety, and healthy relationships during this period of relaxation and celebration.


While we as therapists cannot make the decision for you, we are more than happy to provide a space for the discussion. It is important that you make an informed decision about what is best for your teen and your family, especially if alcoholism runs in your family. If you are in search of guidance through this decision process, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call (408) 628-0532 to book an appointment today!