There are times when I just happen to overhear conversations between folks and I can’t resist wondering what are they talking about? Did I just hear what I thought I heard? I don’t mean to get all judgemental on people but I can’t understand the rationale of some parents when they are talking about their kids and some of the decisions they make regarding the use of alcohol and drugs. On one occasion a father and a mother were discussing a particular holiday function that their 16 year old son was hosting. The question was whether or not they should allow him to drink at the gathering since it was going to be at their home. The rationale was that they would rather have him drinking and celebrating in their own home than be out ‘there’ taking needless risks with the police and/or perhaps being in a car under the influence and running the risk of being in an accident. My inner voice was screaming “are you guys out of your freakin’ minds?
I couldn’t leave it alone and so I began to search around to see what other parents might do and, to my surprise, there were a few that saw it the same way albeit for a multitude of reasons. There were those who wanted to ‘teach’ him how to respect alcohol and not to let it get out of hand. Another person said that it would be fun to party with his son and bring him into the realm of manhood the right way. I remember this same argument a father put forth for having his son visit a prostitute at 18 in order to initiate him properly. Wow!! And then there was the mom, not too long ago, who had ordered a couple of exotic dancers to ‘crash’ her son’s party to provide a bit of ‘light’ entertainment. He was 16 I believe. We may need re-visit the whole argument around needing a licence to drive a car but how easy it is for anyone to create a human life.
So let’s look at the upside of this question. First of all there is ah-ah-gee I just can’t see an upside. My answer is quite simply NO. No it is not OK for anyone who is under age to be drinking at home or anywhere else for that matter. Especially when his/her parents are saying it’s OK.They are the adults-they should know better. What is it they want their kids to learn from this?
1. The obvious one is that it is illegal regardless of where it happens especially if ‘Junior’s friends’ are also drinking.
2. If anything should happen and someone gets hurt the parents would certainly be eligible for a giant lawsuit and criminal charges.
3. What kind of a message does it send the kids who attend the party? In this case 16 year olds about the reasoning and the respect for the law.
4. This relaxing of the rules of law also points out that it’s OK to defy the law as long as it happens behind closed doors and that it is OK to ignore the laws of the land if Dad says so.
5. It goes to show the parents inconsistency and hypocrisy. It says it is OK to make exceptions to the law if it suits our own needs. Dangerous for a kid to hear this message at any time.
6. How does a kid that old learn to trust his parents when the rules can be bent at any time and its OK.
7. If its OK to use alcohol prematurely then is it OK to gamble or use drugs or employ the services of a sex trade worker or be a bit more than forceful when encountering a young woman who is unsure about what she is doing or about to do? Does ‘No’ really mean ‘No’ in this case? It must be ‘OK’ if its happening behind closed doors. Right?
The part of this that I found hard to comprehend was the reasons parents came up with to allow ‘Junior’ to drink openly in the house. The one thing that most parents made clear was there could be no drug use. I guess they missed the discussion at Parents School about how alcohol is a drug as well. Parents, especially Dad, thought it would be cool to party with his son. He thought that it would be like a male bonding experience. NO it is not! What it is is a misguided attempt to stay close to ‘Junior’ and feel as though he is cool in his kids eyes and the eyes of ‘Junior’s’ friends. ‘Junior’ doesn’t need more friends. What he needs is a father who loves his kid enough to say ‘NO’ you cannot drink at the party. He needs to set some boundaries about what is acceptable and why. If ‘Junior’ threatens to go elsewhere and drink then help him understand the ramifications of that decision and that there are consequences to those decisions as well. Then Dad needs to be consistent should it come time to be so. The trick is not to make the consequences so unrealistic that a major crisis occurs but strong enough for ‘Junior’ to understand what is expected of him. He might be angry for awhile but he will come to understand there are rules for living that he needs to adhere to just like everyone else. The earlier this practice begins the easier it becomes and the more trust is likely built between sons and father/parents. Another reason I heard a great deal was the concern about being old enough to make those decisions for himself. The truth is more likely he is not mature enough to understand the nature of the situation and he likely doesn’t possess the maturity to handle the situation with anything other than self serving thoughts and feelings.
–‘Junior’ needs his parents to be his parents an not to be his friends.
–He needs consistency from his parents so that the same messages are being heard all the time–no exceptions and no ‘extraordinary’ circumstances.
–He needs to see his parents model appropriate behaviour when they are having a few.
–He needs to be encouraged to have some respect for the laws of the land. He doesn’t have to like them but he does have to learn to live with them.
Anyways, that’s how I see it–Jim
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