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The power of conversations and relationships

Watching a 16-year-old teenager who snuck out to go to a party return home in the middle of the night – very drunk and very sick– on television is not a rare occurrence. But on a recent episode of Parenthood (Too Big To Fail), the scenario hit on the important topic of “a lifetime of conversations” surrounding alcohol.

Ruby (played by Courtney Grosbeck) found herself in the supportive hands of Amber (played by Mae Whitman) after sneaking out to a party where boys had appeared with beer bongs. “I just felt like I needed to participate” Ruby told Amber the next morning, alluding to the role of peer pressure in her behavior.

What struck us about the episode was Amber’s guidance. As a self-proclaimed troublemaker while living at home, Amber did not lecture Ruby about her choices. Instead she nurtured the young Ruby with a piece of advice. “Just try to remember how bad it made you feel. In my experience, almost nothing good ever comes of nights like that.” While Ruby kept her escapade hidden from her father (played by Ray Romano) – with whom she is struggling to find a connection – the ability to connect and talk with someone else, who was open and honest about their own experiences is a reminder that relationships matter when helping adolescents navigate life.

We know that adolescents will be faced with difficult decisions. Not once, but many times. The best that we can do is hope that our children will be equipped to make healthy decisions and if not – that they feel supported enough to share (and hopefully reflect) afterwards. We applaud Parenthood for tackling this topic through heartfelt writing and relatable scenarios as a reminder that conversations matter. We invite you to learn more about fostering a lifetime of conversations with children about underage drinking and share your thoughts with us. 

Elena Sonnino blogs at and is a blog ambassador for the #TalkEarly program. Read more from Elena here.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*

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