Conversations overheard in the halls of a high school might include, “I’m having a party this weekend, and my parents are OK with you guys coming by.” Or perhaps, “There will be a lot of drinking but as long as we stay at my place, my parents are OK with it”. At the other end of the spectrum, we may hear a neighbor speaking to another about the weekend. “Joey and his buddies will be in the garage. We tapped a keg for them so we can’t go anywhere tonight”. The person on the other end might respond, “OK, well as long as you’ll be around, I suppose a few beers won’t kill them, it’s spring break I guess”.
Do parents really want to respond to their teens drinking in this manner? Do parents react this way? We live in a society that condones underage drinking based upon the statistics we read about in the paper every day. It seems a reader can’t get away from the idea of students dying from alcohol poisoning, whether it be in their college dorm room, or collapsed on the front lawn of their home after walking from a party and later dying of hypothermia because they were too intoxicated to make it in their front door. And yet, the trend continues despite the constant warnings.
Parents need to realize your children are the only precious gifts you have right now. Next week they could be gone, and then the questions may remain. Did I allow my child too much flexibility? Of course, you did, the minute you allowed your child to drink at home because you felt it was a safe environment, you gave them the ok to drink anywhere they pleased because they had already proven they can handle their alcohol at home. Kids are kids and left to their own devices when told they can handle something, they’re always going to push the envelope.
We need to start believing the statistics that suggest that teen drinking is reaching high levels, a danger point, that without parent intervention will continue to cycle out of control. It is possible to look your child in the eye and say, wait for a second, can we talk about this. Talk to your children tonight. Talk to your children tomorrow, when your driving in the car, sitting around watching television, throwing the ball outside, or shopping for prom dresses. Tell them their rite of passage does not have to be binge drinking with their peers.
Students today aren’t simply having a couple of cocktails with their cronies while discussing essay ideas and homework. They are pushing the limits anytime they have alcohol at their disposal. In years past the keggers at college parties were acceptable because the drinking age was 18 years old in most parts of the country. Today those parents have an obligation to hold their children accountable and ask their kids to wait at least until they are of legal age. Children, and that’s truly what they are, need to recognize that there are consequences to getting drunk on the weekends or at a friend’s home when there are adults supervising them. There is nothing the matter with a parent taking a stand and asking your child to think about the pain of losing them to alcohol poisoning.
If you ever are feeling at a loss for trying to get your son or daughter to understand the reason you want them to think before they decide to drink and do drugs, there is a simple outcome. Tell them you love them. Be sure to back up that promise by being their parent and not trying to be their best friend. Parents, please grow up and talk to your children tonight.