How can I encourage my teen to call for a ride if he's been drinking?

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Michele Borba
Psychology
Teens say that losing face with peers is a big reason they don't call for help. "I couldn't call you. My friends would hear!" So create a text code like "1-1-1" or a phrase such as "I'm getting the flu" so your teen can save face and still alert you that he needs a designated driver and rescue. Also make a pact with a trusted adult that if you're not available, your teen knows he can call that person for help.

Earn your teen's trust. Promise that you'll pick your teen with no questions asked. Many teens admitted to having a code with their parents but don't use it because their parents didn't follow through on their "no questions asked" pledge and disciplined them instead. If you want your teen to call, earn their trust.

Pass your code on to one trusted adult. Also make a pact with a trusted adult that if you're not available, your teen knows he can call that person for help.

Have emergency backup plans. Give your teen a card with phone numbers of taxicab services and money in a drawer and tell your teen to use in case of an emergency. Doing so does not mean you are giving your approval to drink but you understand that peer pressure is tough and in case something comes up your teen is prepared and knows how to get a safe ride home if he doesn't call you.
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