What is Blackout Wednesday?

by Rebecca Smith

While Thanksgiving typically kicks off the holiday season, there’s another day parents should keep in mind: the night before, sometimes referred to as “Blackout Wednesday.”

The name comes from the fact that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the days of the year when underage drinking is highest, due to lots of access to alcohol, teens being out of school, and college students coming home from the holidays to catch up with friends.

Of course, Thanksgiving is going to look different for many families this year. Maybe you’re gathering with immediate family only since the CDC has discouraged traveling and big gatherings with extended family. Maybe your teen or college student won’t go out with their friends this year. Still, it’s worth using the time away from school and work to talk about alcohol—experts recommend having the conversation with your children early and often. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting the conversations as early as 9 years old.

Many parents think they can teach their child to drink responsibly at home or “take the mystery away.” Unfortunately, the teen brain is not wired to learn these kinds of lessons yet; research shows that teens who drink at home are more likely to binge drink when they’re out with their friends. Here’s our previous blog post with more about that and other myths that parents believe about alcohol.

Drinking underage is not safe, even if you take away the keys. Did you know less than 40% of alcohol-related underage deaths are car crashes? Not to mention that alcohol damages the still-developing teen brain. Here’s our previous blog post on that and other consequences of teen drinking.

The good news is research shows talking to your teen, or even your college student about the dangers of underage drinking still has an impact on their decision (Even college students still listen to their parents’ wishes)!

There are a few key tips for how to have this conversation: Ask their thoughts, tell them about the dangers in a loving way, set clear boundaries and appropriate consequences. Here’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Power of Parents booklet with more details about how to have that conversation.

In addition to having the conversation with your children, be sure to monitor your alcohol this holiday season.

However you are choosing to celebrate this year, we hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.