My husband and I had a very disturbing weekend.
It centered around an issue that far too many parents either don’t take seriously enough or bury their heads in the sand and avoid altogether.
I’m talking about teenage drinking.
Fortunately, the weekend turmoil resulted not from my own kids’ drinking but from the ignorance and denial exhibited by other parents. But before I climb up on my soapbox, let’s take a look at some frightening statistics.
Currently, alcohol use among young people under 21 is the leading drug problem in the U. S. According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University:
In addition, recent surveys have also found that:
The consequences of underage drinking are heartbreaking:
For a complete report of this Executive Summary, please see http://camy.org/research/status0306/
A Parent In Denial
These are sobering statistics, ones that every parent should take note of. So why is it that most of the parents I talk seem to be in complete denial?
This weekend, my husband and I were awakened at 1:20 a. m. by a parent who called to tell us that our son had been drinking and was running around drunk. When I asked what made him think our son was drunk, he claimed that our son and several others had been in his house drinking (unsupervised), and took off when he and his wife came home.
Not surprisingly, this parent sounded quite upset. Because the drinking took place in his home, he was worried about what would happen if any of the boys in question got in trouble or, worse, got killed in a car crash.
I asked him to calm down, and explained that my son was already home. Although he did have one beer while at his friend’s house, he wasn’t drunk and he wasn’t driving. Moreover, all the other boys involved were at home and safe in bed.
At that point, the parent flew into a rage, saying he couldn’t believe that I knew my son drinks and questioning my fitness as a parent. When I asked if he knew that his own son drinks, he insisted that I didn’t know what I was talking about and ordered my son to stay out of his house.
The sad part is, his response did not shock or even surprise me very much. In fact, I have had this conversation (or ones very much like it) with parents on a regular basis. For some reason, parents don’t want to acknowledge that their kids drink, smoke, or try drugs. Of course, other kids do these kinds of things, but never their own.
This Is Your Wakeup Call!
I happen to know that this particular parent’s son has a serious drinking problem. Not only does he drink too often and too much (often during school), he also drives when he drinks. Yet, his parents refuse to acknowledge that he drinks at all, much less has a drinking problem.
Obviously, not every teenager has a drinking problem. But the harsh reality is this - like it or not, your kids will try cigarettes, alcohol and at least one recreational drug. Their behavior afterwards, and the choices they continue to make regarding alcohol and drugs, will depend to a large extent on your reaction to those experiments.
Instead of getting bent out of shape and claiming that it can’t or won’t happen in your house, please talk to your kids and listen without judgment. Allow your teenage children to confide in you, so that you can be there for them and guide them when they get into questionable situations.
My kids know - because I have told them again and again - that while I don’t support their drinking, I will be there for them (and all of their friends) if they should become inebriated. No matter what time of day or night, I will pick them up and drive everyone home if they don’t have a sober driver.
Even at fabulously forty we can still make bad choices, and we sometimes pay a hefty price when we do. So it’s natural to want to prevent our kids from doing the same.
But it’s far more important that our kids know that we love them and will be there for them when they do make a mistake.
Our children are a reflection on us, and we want them to be perfect. But as we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can choose to have kids that are not so perfect but are alive and well, or we can choose to be ignorant of their faults and risk losing them.
Personally, I choose the first option. For your sake and that of your teenagers, I hope you do the same.
Yana Berlin - Founder of Fabulously40 Inc. ™ the only sorority created exclusively for women in their prime. It was established to help women connect with one another and celebrate their age, beauty and spirituality. We hope you'll join us as we set off on the amazing journey to the best part of our lives. http://www.fabulously40.com