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Underage Drinking: Part II

Thank you to everyone who wrote to me privately and added comments to my drinking story. I’m grateful to have you all as readers.

I’m not sure how I’m going to approach this person (and person’s spouse) to let them know that their actions are threatening my family’s ability to interact with them. Being around angry drunk people is uncomfortable. And, we’ve come to find that being around them (or just talking to them on the phone) a few days after they’ve done something stupid (while drunk) is also somewhat challenging. I personally am pissed off that they allowed teenagers to party on a houseboat while my son was on board. (He was supposed to be there having fun with his very active grandmother, but instead they had to maintain a safe distance from the partygoers–which is a difficult task on a houseboat.) Apparently, these people have no concept of liability.

My family is my life. I would do anything for–and to protect–my boys. I’m mad that someone elses’ actions put one of my sons in danger. I’m mad that I only just found out about the incident fairly recently, although it happened last summer. And I’m fuming mad that they’re allowing their teenager to drink and party at their house with classmates. What kind of example is this setting for the younger sibling? I, personally, think the kids are doomed.

As far as my my own family is concerned, I know that as my sons get older, I’ll never be able to keep them from doing what they choose to do. I can only raise them the best that I can (along with my husband), and hope that they make the right choices.

My husband and I both remember partying in high school. Yes, we drank. And, looking back, we also made some choices that we both regret. We hope to explain those things to our sons.

In retrospect, we could only think of instances where parties occurred after games, dances, or because someone’s parents were out of town: all times where booze was scored for us by older siblings or some guy at the gas station. Never, EVER, did I go to a friend’s house where the parents were home and handing out cups at the door.

That being said, we will be having several discussions with our boys about drugs and alcohol. We want them to know that it’s not okay to be drinking while underage or to be using drugs. But, we do want them to know that–should the time ever come where they’re at a party and they need a ride home because they’re either a) with someone who is too drunk to drive or, b) too drunk to drive themselves–they can call their parents for help and we will go get them . . . no questions asked. (Until morning.)

This doesn’t mean that we’ll condone letting them use us as a “taxi service for the drunk and/or drugged out,” we just want them to trust us enough to know that we are there for them when they need us the most, and choose to turn to us, instead of making the decision to get in the car and drive drunk or drive with someone who has had too much to drink. At home and hungover is much better than dead on the side of the road.

AND, I don’t want that choice in someone elses’ hands. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor doesn’t make you a cool parent. Saying that it’s okay to give a teenager alcohol while they’re at your house because you won’t allow them to drive anywhere afterwards doesn’t make you a responsible parent. Doing these things just makes you an ignorant parent.

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2 Responses

  1. I am the parent of a teenager, and can say without a doubt that if my child were to be allowed to drink or even offered a drink at a friend’s home by their parent, the police would be notified immediately. When I say immediately, I mean that my husband is the police and criminal charges would be filed against them. The human brain does not finish developing until the early 20’s. Most addictions begin during the teen years and I for one can confirm that I became addicted to cigarettes at age 14. But that was back in the day when high schools had smoking sections. They were more relaxed back then about it. I did drink a few times during my high school years, but was never given alcohol by an adult. Half the fun was the sneaking around.
    We do enjoy a glass of wine here and there and on holidays. My husband does indulge in an occasional beer after work as well. My daughter being 16, I NEVER have offered her a glass of wine or beer of her own, but have let her stick her finger in my glass to taste it, so she can know for herself that there is nothing grand about drinking. She dislikes the taste of wine and beer. The fact that she already knows what it tastes like will be a deterrent in college (I’m hoping anyway). Especially considering that she did witness me a bit tipsy at a memorial service and decided that being around people who have been drinking are no fun to hang with. (see my blog for details).

    If I knew these parents I would report them to the police. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is against the law. They are dangerous, because they are not only harming their own child, but someone else’s as well. People go to jail for this behavior and if a child is injured, raped or killed while under the influence of alcohol THEY gave to them, they’ll spend lots and lots of time in jail and lose custody of their own children in the process.
    The underlying issue is that we are not called to be our children’s “friend”. Nor is it a popularity contest. We are called to raise them to be responsible productive members of society and that job is often wrought with choices requiring tough love and leading by example.
    I will never forget the day when my daughter at around age 8 told me I was her best friend. I sat her down and tried my best to lovingly tell her we can’t be friends until she is a grown up. I’m her Mom, not her friend, and trying to define the difference was painful for both of us. It definitely hurt her feelings and she did shed some tears, but she had clarity. Parents aren’t peers, not equals. And the people you know have not grasped the concept of this truth. I feel sad for their children.

  2. Is the issue with drinking really whether you are a certain age? Or does it have more to do with what it can do to people of any age? You spoke of your angry drunk adult friends. And they don’t have to even be angry drunks. Personally, i am insulted when around drunk people. Whether they be friends, parents, or people i don’t even know. You can’t have an intelligent conversation. You can hardly have any coversation. I beliee it is socially, psychologically, and physically unhealthy for anybody to abuse alcohol.

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