Since I have three teenagers at home (17, 15, 13), one of my main motherly duties is checking up on my kids. Danger Boy calls it spying; Mr. Fix-it and I like to call it parenting. Big Red is in the final semester of his senior year. He doesn't tell me much of what's going on (okay, he tells me nothing), but I hear things through the grapevine. I've got a friend whose son actually likes to dish! Right now the high school party circuit is in full swing.
What's shocking to me is how many parents accept that teenage drinking is inevitable. If not openly condoned, it is certainly winked at. Don't ask, don't tell is the de facto policy among many of the parents in my neighborhood. "Just as long as they don't drive . . ." "I'd rather have them be safe at home . . ." "We did it when we were kids."
Does this look familiar to anyone?
Yes, many of us did. I am one of the many that started drinking in my senior year of high school. Today I look back on the risks and I took and I cannot fathom not trying to prevent my kids from making the same stupid mistakes I did. I got lucky. Lucky is not a parenting plan in my book. If you need more convincing than the memory of your own misspent youth, check out this Washington Post article.
Big Red and I have a running joke about partying. I tell him "It's your job to try and my job to stop you. You do your job and I'll do mine." The result has been that, although we've had a couple of incidents, for the most part he just doesn't go out much. I was pretty pleased when the phone calls started flying about a drinking party not too long ago. When I got the call asking where my son was, I was happy to be able to say, "Sitting here next to me."
So many parents worry about their kids being made fun of, or of them not being popular, that they let them go to parties when they know there will be drinking. Not me. I will bust your ass in a heartbeat if I think you're stepping off the line when it comes to drinking or any other drugs. And it's not like he doesn't have friends, he does. I'm sure he is sometimes places where underage drinking and other illicit activities are happening--but he can always use the fallback of his overprotective parents and their nosy ways as an excuse not to partake. Of course this means that I frequently have to wake up at midnight on a Saturday night and have a coherent conversation while we stare deeply into each other's eyes and I slyly sniff. It's not just the babies that interrupt your sleep!
I'm sure he's not going to be an angel when he heads off to Colorado State this August. I'm not even sure I want him to be a total innocent. I do think that not having his brain chemistry changed at the age of 15 or 16 by weekend drinking will have left him with a lot better judgement than if he had been chemically altering his consciousness these last couple of years.
BTW, I'm pretty upfront with my kids about my early party days. Not in graphic detail, but just enough so that they know that whatever they might think about doing I already did; and I surely know what it looks and smells like, so don't even try it. Of course, I'm not all reefer madness or anything. My point of view is that no one ever said "Wow, I'm really drunk (or stoned), I think I'll study and get ahead in life."
What's the blogospheropinion on this?