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Terrible Teens: The alcohol talk makes a difference if you do it right

Ellen Coy is a mom to three teens and wife to a husband of many, many years, but she married young so she still thinks she's pretty hip. She's written a lot of things for a lot of places but she can't tell you where or what. Terrible Tee...

Teenage drinking is so much scarier when you're the mom

When I was a kid, I swore up and down I was never going to drink. When I got into high school, my freshman and sophomore year, I told my peers that I was never going to drink. Then something happened junior year. I started going to parties, and I started to drink. That was a long time ago, and teens are still drinking.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 35 percent of high school students polled drank some sort of alcohol in the past 30 days and 21 percent binge drank.

I'll admit that I did some pretty stupid stuff when it came to teen drinking, but I learned from my mistakes. Now that I have three teens, I'm hoping that I can make sure they will always be responsible around alcohol. And while I am fully aware teenage drinking is illegal, I know that a ton of teens do it.

More: I'll let my teen drink at home once in a while

With two high school upperclassmen, teenage drinking has reared its inevitable head in our home.

I've always been the parent who has said, "When the time comes, I will be aware when my kids experiment with alcohol." And if they wanted to test the waters (i.e., the beer, or the wine), they were going to test it in the confines (and safety) of my home, with me being present.

I stand firm that I do not want my kids going away to college without having the knowledge of how to drink responsibly. Because I believe if you send your child to college and he or she does not know how his or her body will tolerate and/or react to alcohol, it is a recipe for absolute disaster.

More: Should we allow teens to drink under adult supervision?

I am not kidding on that last statement. You send your child off to college without knowing how to drink responsibly and I guarantee bad things will happen.

My oldest had his first taste of beer last summer at a family reunion. He will occasionally have a beer or two at home under our watchful eye or on family vacations.

And now, the high school parties have started. My oldest is going out with friends — he's a senior, he's having fun. In fact, he went to a party the other night. He and I talked about him having a couple of beers at the party and we discussed who the designated driver would be. We also discussed that under no circumstances was he to get into the car if the driver even had one beer. I told him I would come get him from the party no matter what time it was. It would never, ever be a problem for me. Ever.

More: Is your teen drinking?

There are too many risks in life for me not to pick him up if he needed me to get him, and he knows that. He also knows what his limits are, he respects both his father and me and knows not to get out of control.

I'm not going to lie. I was worried when he was at the party and I didn't go to sleep at all, but he texted me and told me when he was leaving and updated me on his way home. Per our house rules, he came into my room to kiss me goodnight when he got home. He was not drunk or stupid and once he got home, I could finally let go of all my anxiety about the evening and relax.

This is all new territory for me. It's kind of like how when you have your newborn baby and you peek into his room at night every hour to check to make sure his tiny chest is rising and falling.

Except scarier.

This is life. This is raising kids. It's the only way I know how to do it. And I hope I'm doing it right.

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