By LAUREN FORCELLA
DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I recently met the parent of one of my son’s friends. I was floored when she told me she allows kids to drink at her house as long as they stay the night. She said lots of parents do this and assured me the kids are being responsible and that if anyone needs to leave, there is a designated driver. I proceeded to poll parents on this topic. Most felt that since the majority of teenagers drink, parents were smart to let them drink at home. I’m mortified. Here I’ve been worried about peer pressure, when I should be worried about the parents! Your comments please.
— Call me “Unaware”
Katie, 16, Auburn: While I believe it is safer for kids to party in a controlled environment, I honestly notice that many kids with “loose” parents have family problems, low grades and other negative issues. It’s hard to know if the parents who throw these parties are worried for their kids’ safety, are pretending they’re in high school again, or simply don’t care. Although I attend these parties, I’m grateful my parents set limits.
Dominic, 23, San Luis Obispo: These parents understand that most teens will experiment and have their safety in mind, but this situation definitely promotes partying.
Emily, 17, Sacramento: Kids like parents to allow these parties, but they don’t respect those parents. If my parents allowed this, I would feel I could walk all over them. These parents are setting their kids up for failure to rise above peer pressure and are stereotyping that all teens want to drink. Although these parties may seem the best scenario to experiment in, they actually promote teen drinking. They teach kids to give in and not be their best self. If they weren’t happening, many would not search out the opportunity to drink. Some of these parents are big drinkers who started in their teens, so they see it as normal. Some are trying to be cool. Kudos to parents for wanting their kids safe, but wouldn’t they be safer if they weren’t encouraged to drink in first place?
Katelyn, 15, Huntington Beach: Drinking is bad all around. It’s addicting, tough to kick, gives you migraines, liver problems, stupidity and bad breath. If there’s one thing I’d throw out of this world, it’s alcohol. Don’t let the line, “everybody’s doing it,” fool you.
Katrina, 17, Sand Springs, Okla.: Parents let kids drink at home to keep them from driving or winding up in the wrong place, but I’ve heard horror stories about kids almost dying from alcohol poisoning.
DEAR UNAWARE: I’m glad you have your head on straight. Many parents mistakenly believe that allowing kids to get hammered “safely and comfortably” is smart. It’s hovercraft parenting at its darkest — and kids really don’t respect it.
FYI to parents: Today’s teens are ultra-conditioned not to drink and drive. You don’t need to turn your home into a sleep-over bar as a preventative. Getting drunk used to involve awkward arrangements, uncomfortable settings and anxiety about getting caught, all of which netted less underage drinking. Making it comfortable and sanctioned is called enabling. And it creates users.
For parents who need more than loss of teen respect or me guilt-tripping you to wake up and become the adult in the household, consider the horror stories when kids DO die from chugging alcohol in your home, or they drive drunk even though you “collected the keys.” Do you want to land in prison, lose your home? Allowing underage drinking at your house can do all this, too.
Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year!
(Straight Talk Advice.org tackles youth’s toughest issues with youth’s wisest advice. Go deeper in today’s conversation or ask a question at www.StraightTalkAdvice.org or PO Box 1974 Sebastopol 95473.)