By January 1, 2011 Read More →

A Drinking Conundrum For Teenagers

Happy New Year to everyone!  Last night, a group of us went out to celebrate the New Year complete with free cab rides back home!

We all have kids of varying ages and the topic came up about drinking–over a beer of course!  In the last post, a good point was made to be neither too strict or too lax on the drinking front to successfully navigate the waters of teenage underage drinking. I felt it made some good points. But another topic came up and we could not come to a consensus on how to best handle it. Hence, I am asking you!

Susan discovered some bottles of booze under her daughter’s bed recently–daughter is either 18 or 19. She does not feel there is a problem in terms of “alcoholism”, but is confused as to how to best handle it.

  • She let her daughter know that she accidentally discovered it while vacuuming the room and was not snooping.
  • She confiscated the bottles.
  • She had a calm discussion, which is where it gets complicated.

She explained that she realized that she was going to drink, but that it was unacceptable in her house as she was not willing to facilitate breaking the law. She expressed her disappointment. But, her daughter came came back with “well, am I supposed to tell you in advance of me doing something bad?”

And that is where the confusion lies.  The right and obvious answer is to no do anything bad or illegal–that is a simple solution , but not so practical. Who of us has not exceeded the speed limit, returned an article of clothing that was worn, got behind the wheel after a few drinks, or even as a teenager had a beer or a smoke?

How would you answer that?

The best I could come up with was to say that she realizes that kids will be tempted to drink and will. Stick with the “not in my house” rule. This somewhat implies a “hide it better next time” mentality or “it’s OK but not here”, but then you re-emphasize the rule about not drinking and driving.

We also got into a discussion about punishment. What is the effective punishment? Grounding? Take away the keys to the car? Death? My suggestion was to lay the guilt trip on and make her understand perfectly clear that this is unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and if there is a next time there will be some incredible consequences.  My thought was that this was the first infraction and going off the deep end of the punishment scale might be a bit much.

Chime in. What are your thoughts? Boy it sure was easier when they were younger wasn’t it?

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5 Comments on "A Drinking Conundrum For Teenagers"

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  1. Susan says:

    We’re the opposite – we’ve always told our daughter that’d we prefer she drink in the privacy of our home but NOT to hide it from us (tantamount to lying in my opinion). She also travelled to Europe when she was 18, where it is legal to drink at that age, and we realistically knew that she would.

  2. John says:

    I agree it is tantamount to lying and I have heard that argument and can talk myself into and out of it many times. Personally, my thought is they should not drink till they are 21 (it is the law), and by allowing, looking the other way,etc. I feel I am condoning it. If they sneak away and have a party with friends, etc., I kind of think the whole–never drive home drunk or call me if your driver is drinking deal kicks in. And I am certainly not going to be providing alcohol to a party of underage kids–here in MD, that is big trouble!

  3. Honey says:

    TODAYS reality- Drinking, drugs and sex is NOT first discussed at 18, its more like 14. Using the law as an excuse to back you up may backfire on the guilty, say you learned a lesson yourself. Conveying fear for their safety and health is no soft matter take a firm stand.

    My now 14 yr old son and I have discussed how drugs and alcohol affect the body. While on vacations he has seen how drunk people behave and on two occasions has seen consequences of drug abuse on some locals in our town.

    There must be ongoing dialogue, Hangovers are natures way to warn you, but parents need to step up first.

  4. John says:

    I totally agree. I have been talking (to the dismay of my ex at times) to my kids about drinking, drugs, sex, etc for many many years–back in elementary school. Of course appropriately. But by 6th grade they all knew that WHEN they decided to drink that they could always call for a ride with no questions asked and their safety was paramount.

  5. Lee says:

    Easier when we were young only because there were far less consequences outside the home. I have had some success with presenting true horror stories that are consequences of teenage drinking. Another angle to suggest if the child (and yes we are talking children here)is intellectually mature enough and has enough respect for her body/mind -there is a growing body of evidence that drinking before the cerebellum has fully developed can impair mental functioning for life. Find studies, articles and TV shows for your children -engage them, educate them.