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An open letter to her son about underage drinking, etc.

Posted by on Jul. 25, 2014 at 3:48 PM
  • 11 Replies


Quote:

An Open Letter To My Son About Underage Drinking

Kathy RadiganJul 24, 2014

 

An Open Letter To My Son About Underage Drinking

Photo by Redwin Law/Flickr

As hard as it is for me to believe this, I’m the mother of a teenager. In fact, Tom will be entering 10th grade this September.

The years have gone so fast that I really feel as if one day I was taking pictures of him graduating from our Mommy and Me class, the next day I couldn’t believe he was in the fourth grade, and then bang, he was in high school.

Play dates at friends' houses have been replaced by going out for sushi, a movie, or walking around town with his buddies. Alone. No adults watching over them.

Instead of chatting with his friends’ parents over coffee at kitchen tables, we wave to them out of car windows.

The times they are a changin'.

Whenever my family or friends ask about Tom and marvel at the fact that he is now a teenager, the subject of alcohol and drugs always seems to come up. As in, how will I handle it when he comes home drunk for the first time? Or what will I do if I find out that he had been using drugs?

I always find the questions a bit baffling because it’s just assumed that Tom will try these things. In fact, the common answer I get from most of my friends and family is that of course he will.

Truth be told, I find this mindset maddening. And if I was a kid today, I would find it really confusing.

From the time Tom was in kindergarten, he has been learning in school that drinking and drugs are dangerous choices. He has read books and been shown movies about how alcohol can affect your judgment and make it easier to engage in other risky behaviors like unprotected sex or driving under the influence.

In eighth grade his health teacher made the whole class write letters addressed to themselves making the promise that they wouldn't smoke, drink, or have unprotected sex in high school.

Yet so many parents take it as a foregone conclusion that their kids will engage in any manner of risky behavior.

I’ve been accused of living in “La La Land” if I think otherwise. “Kids will be kids,” some say. Others will chime in with, “after all we did it.”

Really? Is this the criteria we are going to base our parenting on?

I get it. My son is growing up, and he’s going to have to make choices for himself.

I want him to spread his wings and discover who he is. And as much as some people think I’m living under a rock, I do know that he is going to make mistakes along the way.

But, I want him to know where I stand on engaging in behaviors that are at best risky and at worst illegal or life threatening.

I never want my son to say that I wasn’t clear about my feelings — so I’m writing them out here, for all to see.

Dear Tom,

The legal drinking age in this country is 21. Please know that dad and I will never allow you to have alcohol in our house or in our presence until you reach that age. Please also know that no good has ever come from a group of teenagers drinking. It’s a recipe for all kinds of disasters.

If you should choose to drink, you’ll not only be breaking the rules of our house, you’ll be breaking the law.

If you get stopped for driving under the influence, or the police get called to a party where you have been drinking, you may be in a position where we can’t protect you.

Always call me and your dad. ALWAYS. No matter what you have done.

Don’t ever follow up a bad choice with one that’s worse just because you’re afraid of disappointing us or making us angry.

Will we be happy? Of course not. But we would much rather get you and any friend that wants to come with you home safely, than get a call that you are NEVER coming home.

Let me be clear that the fact that we love you and will stand by you does not in any way mean we will stand by while you do things that you know aren’t good for you.

There will be those who will tell you that your parents are being unreasonable and totally unrealistic. Some may tell you that you are a teenager and that it’s a rite of passage to get drunk. They may even regale you with stories of their own youthful mistakes.

Listen to your own heart and trust your gut. Also know there is nothing cool about waking up in your own vomit, or having a DUI before you are 18.

Your father and I are so proud of the man you are becoming. We love you so much that we don’t care if you hate us. That’s our gift to you, we are your parents not your friends.

Always,

Mom 

Agree or disagree with Mom?

I have said the very same to my children over the years.

This 'rite of passage' many feel is acceptable baffles me.  As long as my child isn't expected to follow that line of thinking, do as you wish with your own children.

by on Jul. 25, 2014 at 3:48 PM
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Replies (1-10):
furbabymum
by on Jul. 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM

 I did not do any of those things but my DH did drink at a young age. I will not support my children doing that and unfortunately for them their father and I are of a skill set where they can't hide shit and I can scare the crap out of them with stories of what stupid teens drinking does. I would pick them up but I would be very upset with them.

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 25, 2014 at 4:19 PM
1 mom liked this

I read this to my daughter.

She told me I could have written it myself.

I hold no 'expectations' of her acting like a 'typical teenager'.  Nor did I with my two adult daughters.

That sets the bar pretty low.  Why would I want to send them such a message?

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Jul. 25, 2014 at 4:39 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree with this mom.

I never drank or used drugs until i was an adult and even then, never really in excess. My DH partied...really hard...as hard as you can, but it was never something i was interested in. Why? Because alcohol tastes gross, i avoid ingesting poison in general, and i'm totally fine with maintaining my inhibitions. They are there for a reason.

My DS is only 8 but i'll be devastated if he chooses to engage in that kind of behavior. It's not a rite of passage, its trashy and embarrassing.

EireLass
by Ruby Member on Jul. 25, 2014 at 6:08 PM

My kids knew of my past, and I also told them why I did it. I provided a life for them that didn't include these reasons. I didn't 'expect' them to do this, but knew I wouldn't be shocked. They are human. But they also knew that if I caught them, there would be a fate worse than anything they could ever dream....and they knew I meant business. But they also had a big life plan already set by themselves, and didn't want to screw themselves up. They also knew I had eyes all over town, and these eyes had no problem ratting them out. 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM


Quoting EireLass:

My kids knew of my past, and I also told them why I did it. I provided a life for them that didn't include these reasons. I didn't 'expect' them to do this, but knew I wouldn't be shocked. They are human. But they also knew that if I caught them, there would be a fate worse than anything they could ever dream....and they knew I meant business. But they also had a big life plan already set by themselves, and didn't want to screw themselves up. They also knew I had eyes all over town, and these eyes had no problem ratting them out. 

Ah yes, as do I.

It's been proven, with a few benign comments, that I have eyes and ears all over the place. lol

canadianmom1974
by Platinum Member on Jul. 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM
I'm much more relaxed about underage drinking. My 16 yo has had a beer or whiskey with us, he's tried my coolers on occasion. I should add though, that the legal drinking age here is 18.

We're close to the Canada/US border and there are lots of kids who come up for a weekend trip, and it's pretty easy to pick them out at the bar, lounge, etc, because they are the ones who can't handle their booze, or know what their limits are.

Also, it's actually not illegal for one to drink at home with parents, or even at some licensed restaurants. I'd rather my kid know his limits than to be the loser pissed guy passed out at a party.

Happily he's shown little interest in being a partier, maybe because alcohol hasn't been this forbidden thing.
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FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 25, 2014 at 7:15 PM


Quoting canadianmom1974: I'm much more relaxed about underage drinking. My 16 yo has had a beer or whiskey with us, he's tried my coolers on occasion. I should add though, that the legal drinking age here is 18. We're close to the Canada/US border and there are lots of kids who come up for a weekend trip, and it's pretty easy to pick them out at the bar, lounge, etc, because they are the ones who can't handle their booze, or know what their limits are. Also, it's actually not illegal for one to drink at home with parents, or even at some licensed restaurants. I'd rather my kid know his limits than to be the loser pissed guy passed out at a party. Happily he's shown little interest in being a partier, maybe because alcohol hasn't been this forbidden thing.

I can understand what you are saying.  I also think it depends on the individual and the family overall.

But to me, this isn't just about drinking.  


canadianmom1974
by Platinum Member on Jul. 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM
2 moms liked this
We're very open about drugs and the real (and in some instances over blown) dangers they pose.

Our focus has always been to raise our kids to be confident enough in themselves to not cave to peer pressure. So far so good, though with our youngest only 8 there's a lot of years left to go.


Quoting FromAtoZ:

Quoting canadianmom1974: I'm much more relaxed about underage drinking. My 16 yo has had a beer or whiskey with us, he's tried my coolers on occasion. I should add though, that the legal drinking age here is 18.

We're close to the Canada/US border and there are lots of kids who come up for a weekend trip, and it's pretty easy to pick them out at the bar, lounge, etc, because they are the ones who can't handle their booze, or know what their limits are.

Also, it's actually not illegal for one to drink at home with parents, or even at some licensed restaurants. I'd rather my kid know his limits than to be the loser pissed guy passed out at a party.

Happily he's shown little interest in being a partier, maybe because alcohol hasn't been this forbidden thing.

I can understand what you are saying.  I also think it depends on the individual and the family overall.

But to me, this isn't just about drinking.  

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Patti-Gee
by on Jul. 25, 2014 at 8:37 PM


    I wasn't the typical teenager, so I raised my sons the same way.   A few people thought I was in denial, but that was their issue, not mine.    They weren't your typical teenage boys, but they are outstanding young men.  Just like they were taught and raised to be.   

    

fireangel5
by Gold Member on Jul. 26, 2014 at 12:59 AM

The drinking is good mentality is so prevalant around here, among parents, that it saddens me. They have no problem going to family parties and getting drunk, with their kids watching. They have no problem tailgating at a grade school football game, EVERY weekend, then continuing the drinking in the endzone then after the game at the park or someone's home. These are the same parents who have no issue with their 16/17/18 y/o's drinking and getting drunk. 

Sure I drank at 17 and I am honest with my kids but I hope they are smarter than I was at their age and so far, they have been and I couldn't be happier!

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