The Blog

Bryan Clay: how to talk to your kids about underage drinking

I love being a part of the Ask, Listen, Learn team because it lets me talk with young people about the powerful effect making good choices (like saying “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking) has on their future. And it’s so fulfilling to meet and talk with kids about their dreams and encourage them to stay focused in their pursuit of those goals — honestly, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell who inspires who more. But right now, I’d like to speak directly to the biggest influence in those children’s lives: parents.

As a father of three little ones myself, I am familiar with the challenge that lies in finding just the right moment to have those important heart-to-heart chats with the kids. So, today I want to offer tips on how to take advantage of this summer’s Olympics to jump into one of the most important (and one of the more intimidating) of those discussions: saying “no” to underage drinking.

Here’s the plan:

1.       Stress the end game. Point out to them that not a single athlete got the title of “Olympian” on accident. Their climb to the top was absolutely calculated. Let them know none of the athletes made a decision without considering how it would affect them in achieving their ultimate goal. Were they ever tempted to make bad decisions like drink underage? Sure. But they knew if they said “yes,” it would hinder their chances of success. Encourage your kids to think before making choices.

2.       Turn adversity into advantage. In my book, “Redemption,” I talk about plenty of times when I faced obstacles, and I can guarantee you every competitor in the Games has caught their fair share of bad breaks, too. But the key to their success is they never shied away from adversity. Instead, they embraced it, they learned from it and they then took that experience and leveraged it to their advantage to put them ahead of the game. Urge your kids to do the same while watching the events.

3.       What’s their passion? Take a second to ask your children what they are passionate about. Then assure them that drinking before they’re allowed to will certainly make it much harder for them to be their best at that, but by making healthy, smart decisions, they are more likely to reach their potential.

4.       Don’t cut corners. During the Games, make your children aware of the fact that those Olympic athletes make it a point to constantly challenge themselves. They hunger for the next experience that will make them better at what they do. And, they avoid the easy way out because they know it is usually a poor decision leading to short-term gain and long-term loss. Mention this to your kids and ask them what sort of things they could do to challenge themselves to become their best.

I hope you will use my advice and take advantage of the upcoming Games as an opportunity to start the conversation with your children about underage drinking. I would also suggest taking our Ask, Listen, Learn Pledge for a healthy lifestyle at Once you’ve had the talk, leave me a comment or tweet me @BryanClay and let me know how it went! You can do it!

Enjoy the Games!


 Cheer Bryan on later this month as he competes in the 2012 Thorpe Cup!