Like many other states, underage drinking is a problem in Massachusetts. Many high school and college students consider binge drinking a rite of passage as they mature from teenagers to adults. This type of thinking has led to reckless and irresponsible behavior at parties and behind the wheel. But is restriction always the best way for you to protect minors from the responsibilities they will have when they can legally drink? After all, adults 21 years and older get DUIs too.

Some parents are now considering a different approach by setting their own rules at home. CNN shares the method one family used to prepare their college-bound son. Rather than allow him to have his initial experiment without adult supervision in college, his father allowed him to have the occasional beer while supervised on vacation in Canada, where the legal drinking age is 18 years old.

His parents spoke candidly with him about the risks of drinking and the responsibilities that came with it. When they dropped him off at college a few months later, they felt confident that they had prepared him for handling himself in college. Like many other parents, this family seemed to acknowledge that regardless of the drinking age, many young adults do experiment with alcohol in college. Every year, almost 2,000 college students from ages 18 to 24 die because of injuries related to alcohol.

Other parents may take a different approach, where drinking was never allowed in the home. These children often grow up to have no alcohol-related problems. However, there really is no predicting how a teenager may react to peer pressure or their own personal desire to experiment with drugs and alcohol in college, where it is so often normalized.

Professionals suggest that perhaps the biggest determining factor is how you approach the topic of alcohol in the home. They recommend candid conversations about alcohol beyond the ‘Do not drink and drive’ slogan or scare tactics. Honesty is a much better way for you to prepare students for the potential dangers that lie ahead. This may help to instill responsible behaviors that reduce DUIs in the long run.

This article provides information on underage drinking. It should not be interpreted or used as legal advice.