I have three teenagers in my house and, so far, we’ve managed to steer clear of the party scene.
That doesn’t mean they haven’t attended parties where there’s been alcohol. There have been a few instances of that, but so far, they’ve made good choices. I’m under no illusion, however, that this will always be the case. At any time, peer pressure or new friend groups could tip the balance. So far, we’ve just been lucky.
We have done our best, however, to lay a foundation that supports good choices. We’ve sent them to schools that instill values, involved them in church and talked to them often. They know our expectations. There is no fuzzy ground about drinking, drugs and sex in our house, but it’s my hope that they understand our reasoning. And I hope they know they can come and talk to us about anything.
It’s the season for proms, graduation celebrations and beach week, so we have posted a great story that helps parents navigate the party scene. Parents can find facts about the dangers of underage drinking, the resources available and tips to help them steer their kids in the right direction. I particularly like the tip about setting a code with your kids if they want to leave a party for whatever reason but don’t want their friends to know. I’ve told my kids I will pick them up anytime they need, and they can blame me for having to leave early.
My parents were pretty relaxed in their attitude about drinking. They didn’t go out and buy us alcohol, but they turned a blind eye to what my sister and I were doing. We started drinking pretty young and, as a result, I made choices that still haunt me, choices I wish I could go back and change. I’m pretty lucky I survived my teen years. Several of my friends did not.
I recently asked my oldest daughter what kept her from drinking at parties where she’s had the option. Her answer? Guilt. She’d feel bad going against our wishes. I was slightly surprised, but not entirely. I had hoped she could see the logic against underage drinking — the trouble she could get it into, the damage it could do to her brain, the fact that it would lower her inhibitions potentially causing other bad decisions. I reiterated these points to her.
She agreed that maybe she would be a little worried that drinking might cause her to compromise her morals but other than that, she said she didn’t really see a big problem with it. While most of her girlfriends don’t drink, some of the boys she hangs with do. She said she didn’t see it causing that much trouble.
So much for the foundation we laid. But for now, I’ll take the guilt.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.