It's a fine-line that needs to be walked when it comes to alcohol. In our household we strongly subscribe to the no-tolerance attitude for underage drinking. It's not OK for our teens to drink under our roof, over our roof, or anybody else's roof. Having said that, we made it very clear that IF they drank, there would be no punishment, yelling, etc., if they called us or a neighbor or the parents of a friend to pick them up. We have a bigger no-tolerance for drinking and driving than we do for just drinking.
How do you not sound hypocritical or tolerant if you say "don't drink, but call us if you do"?
I haven't found the answer to that yet, but that's the way we have handled it.
Now, I know that there have been many parties where the parents not only allowed alcohol, but they purchased the booze! I still shake my head when I think of it. We have a program in our community that helps us with the dilemma of non-thinking parents. It's called the Placer Parent Host Program. The program consists of a public awareness campaign for parents to inform them about the laws. But the power of the program is that parents sign a Responsible Host Pledge guaranteeing that they will not expose youth to alcohol or drugs in their homes, they will not allow parties in their home when they aren't present, they will chaperone the parties and all sorts of other responsible, common sense things. The database of parents who have signed the pledge is on the website so that you can look up the name of the family hosting a party to see if they have signed the pledge.
There's been a lot of buzz, so to speak, about alcohol and lowering the drinking age. Last year, a group of university chancellors and presidents placed their signature on the Amethyst Initiative to open up the debate about this topic. The latest I've heard about is coming out of Minnesota.
Minnesota seems to be a hot spot with this issue. Maybe because it's always so cold over there -- young people drink because there isn't anything much to do outside but freeze? Having said that, I think the young kids here in California are drinking their share, too.
The University of Minnesota is getting ready to have a new policy to protect the students who abuse alcohol and the students who seek help for the drunk kid. Students are often afraid to get help when their drinking buddy passes out because of fear that they will all get into trouble. Students who report and seek medical attention for others will no longer need to be hesitant in an emergency.
Let me know how you handle underage drinking at your home. And do you think the drinking age should be lowered? One thought is to let people learn how to drink before they drive, so lower the drinking age to 16 and raise the driving age to 18. I don't see that happening, but we should be all talking openly about the subject.
Other Web Resources:
Our good friend, Lisa Frederiksen, has tons of information on her site, Breaking the Cycles. Please look at it and also check into her book, If You Loved Me, You'd Stop.
Choose Responsibility is a nonprofit organization that encourages minors to make good decisions, as well as encouraging dialogue about alcohol.
If you are looking for products to help you teach in the classroom check into our Substance Abuse section on the Career Kids' website.