Summertime with teenagers is different than summer time with smaller kids. As soon as school lets out, they are making plans with friends and Snapping and Instagramming like crazy between their seasonal work gigs. Social media has made this is the season for teens to experience serious FOMO (fear of missing out). It seems like everyone else is on a better vacation or doing other fun things that you aren’t—and all of the fun get together’s, parties and bonfires happening are easy to see and find online.
And at most of these parties, there is alcohol. Every parent reserves the right to decide how they are going to approach their teens and alcohol. It’s no secret that the temptation is there, they want to try it, and other kids are always going to be drinking it. Some parents are of the mindset that if they provide it and it’s in their own home, it’s okay. Others are adamantly against it.
I tend to deal with the issue of alcohol consumption with my teens on a case by case basis. I don’t want my kids drinking in public places or at bonfires or at the park. I am not even really that accepting of them drinking amongst friends at our home, with coolers or some other low alcohol-content-beverage that we have approved. While I understand the curiosity, I also know how it can go very wrong. Recently, I adamantly told my kids that they couldn’t drink with their friends at a large celebration that was happening. I wasn’t going to be at home that evening to receive any calls and so it didn’t feel right or safe. They were starting the evening at another friend’s house, and unbeknownst to me, the other friend was allowed to “pre-game” with alcohol. Sadly, one of my kids couldn’t resist the temptation—I could smell it on her when she came in to kiss me goodnight.
In the 80s when I was a teen, the temptation was no different. What was different was that our parents seemed less aware, or even just perhaps our culture at that time was less concerned about the consequences of alcohol overall. I saw plenty of my friends drink too much, do stupid things and get into near-fatal situations. Heck, I even did some of these things myself.
On one particular occasion, a girl I knew drank too much at her own party, and the party got out of control, as unknown kids from all over town showed up. Her house was trashed, and so was she. The next morning she was so distraught over the situation that she flung herself down her stairs and dropped encyclopedias on her arm until it broke. I guess she felt that if she was injured, it would soften the blow (pun intended) to her parents.
Obviously, the skill of rational decision-making is not always fully developed in teenagers. And with an alcohol-altered-state, it can even be less so. When teens come to my home, I will not let them drink alcohol unless I’ve talked to the parents, and we are on the same page. And to be clear, I’m talking about 5 or 6 girls together, not a group of hormonally-charged girls and boys. I’ve already had to ground my teen from apps and electronics for drinking—I don’t want to be responsible for what may happen between a group of teenagers partying together.
Additionally, when my teen comes to your home, I expect the same. I don’t want my teenager drinking alcohol that someone else has provided or under another adult’s supervision. Let’s face it, the parties of the 80s where parents were gone for the weekend and kids threw a rager, Sixteen Candles-style, don’t usually happen these days. Parents are usually present in the home, or just a text away.
I never want to be responsible for supervising a drinking minor if something goes wrong. And I don’t ever want to be faced with that situation with my own kids either. It’s easy to say, but harder to implement. The best we can do is try to keep the conversation with other parents open and make our feelings about alcohol-use known upfront.
I used to call the other parents before my kids were allowed playdates—I wish it were still that easy!