Saturday, August 7, 2010

Parenting Teens - should you let them drink alcohol?

So it's another Saturday night and teens everywhere around the place will be drinking 13, 14, 17 years old. Some with their parents blessing, some not.

But they will do it anyway won't they? We all have stories to tell - "my parents wouldn't allow it, but I did it anyway" or "my parents let us have a drink at home and I didn't abuse the privilege".

If you don't want your teen (or future teen) to drink, you have to really ask yourself why that is. You also have to plan for the fact you may not have the same close relationship with your child that you envision you will. It cracks me up laughing when I hear some parents say "oh we are going to sit down and talk about it". Bwhaahahahaha! What makes you think they are going to listen to you if/when they are full of teen arrogance and the 'rage against the machine attitude' that came out of nowhere.

My daughter turned 18 years old last month (the legal drinking age in Oz), and I can tell you that I fought, kicked and screamed that she did not drink alcohol before then. It was a massive bone of contention between Teen Queen and I, but I held fast. I know that she certainly did drink before then......but I still won the fight AND the battle.

I didn't want her to drink for several reasons. The effects alcohol has on a developing brain. The fact that teens engage in risk taking behaviour already, the fact that the liver cannot metabolise alcohol during these years....all the boring stuff.
The other reasons - is because she is more likely to do things she will regret, that through alcohol her danger radar will fuzz, and the fact that boys/men WILL try to take advantage of her sexually if she is drunk or even tipsy.

So I told Teen Queen all of these things. I told her she did not have my blessing to drink alcohol before she turned 18, and that when the time was right I would TEACH her how to drink. Huh?

Well from the age of about 15/16 I did let her have a sip of my drink. ONE SIP - why? So she could learn to identify the contents. She was surprised how tasteless Vodka can sometimes be. I told her stories from my years behind the bar, how one night 2 men came in with 2 very naive looking girls. About how these 'men' ordered double vodka and orange drinks for the ladies and beer for themselves. I also told her how I only put half-shots in those drinks, charged them the full amount and (put the difference in the tip jar) watched with glee when they got ridiculously drunk whilst these very sweet looking girls looked on in disgust.

At the first party Teen Queen was invited where alcohol would be served (a girls 15th!), I refused to let her stay overnight. I picked her up at 12 o'clock and spoke to the mother, told her that my daughter was not permitted to drink and that I expected her to respect my wishes. Which she did.

As much as Teen Queen hated me then, I didn't care. I was too busy being shocked that parents I had known since our kids were at primary school (and thought had half a brain) were dropping their 14 year old daughters off at this same party with a 4 pack of alcopops!

Bloody hell, we both learnt something that night.

I learnt that 'supervised party' can actually mean 'I will be in the general vicinity whilst several teenagers get so drunk they throw up and be too busy/drunk myself that I won't notice my own child is so drunk she is in her bedroom with several boys'.

Teen Queen was actually quite happy to be picked up....the party was practically over by 10pm, everyone there was drunk and stupid. She was a bit shocked at the behaviour of the friends she had known for years. "Thomas is such a sweetie mum, but you should have SEEN him.....Annie was just out of it on the floor and didn't even care they lifted up her skirt.....I thought Marcus was nice but he was just awful, and Tahlias uncle was there and he tried to kiss me yuuuuuk!"

She saw it all through clear eyes, just like I wanted her to.

To be continued...


Lucy said...

Lucy, I look forward to the continuation.

I am terrified of this.

Andrea said...

I agree its a sacry reality! I wish someone had told me what's what when I was that age! Can't wait for the next episode!

Nerdycomputergirl said...

Great post to show teenagers just what really happens, can't wait for the continuation


Sue said...

Love it.

KayK said...

good attitude i think!
i read a similar thing about a mom playing with fire with her 8 year old.. it's comparable i think.
i never drank as a kid and had the sober experience of those first parties, i think it can form your lifelong relationship with alcohol (i drink very very rarely and take no risks whatsoever)
my son is far from being a teen but i fear him being 'out there'..boys are under so much peer pressure and binge drinking is so big in Oz :(

Jet, Turning Winds said...

Wow, that's really a fearless thing to do for a parent. But I guess it also has it's advantages so that your teen will be aware of what happens when they do something stupid. At least she'll know you're not lying about everything you said on the consequences of drinking alcohol. And here's hoping that she really learned her lesson.