I have always told my kids if they were in trouble they could call me, and I would be there no questions asked. I thought I meant it until recently.
I got a call from my daughter, “Mom, I need you to pick us up.” One of her friends was sick, and by sick she meant drunk. I was glad she called me, but I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation.
Should I call her friend’s Mom? I didn’t know her well. How would she react? If it was my daughter I would want to know. If I did call her Mom would my daughter feel betrayed? Most importantly it was my responsibility to ensure that her friend was safe regardless of whether my daughter would be mad at me.
The Discussion of Underage Drinking Comes Up a Lot with Parents
When I picked the girls up they seemed okay and after the car ride home, I decided not to call her mom. I stayed up with them and we talked about underage drinking. I wanted them to know the chance they were taking and all the things that could have gone wrong. How drinking affected their ability to make good decisions and put them at risk for physical harm.
“But Mom, everyone drinks” was the response my daughter gave me. Although I know every teenage does not drink alcohol, I understand how it could feel that way. Despite the fact that statistics show underage drinking has gone down in the last 20 years, the NSDUH reports 1/3 of 15-year-olds have had at least 1 drink in their lives.
The next morning, I sat my daughter down to discuss her punishment. She seemed utterly confused. “Wait, I wasn’t the one getting sick, and I did what you told me to do. You said I could call you and there would be no questions asked.” She was right, I had said that, but what exactly did that mean? Should I turn my head at the fact that my underage daughter was drinking because she called me? If I punished her would she be more hesitant to call me in the future?
As the Mom of a college sophomore and high school senior the discussion of underage drinking comes up a lot with other parents. There are those that feel underage drinking is absolutely unacceptable and have forbidden it, but does that mean it isn’t happening? Others have turned a blind eye, taking keys to ensure everyone’s safety and not checking to see if any alcohol has been brought in their house.
I admit it, I am the Mom who is totally inconsistent and has had a difficult time taking a stance. You see, I tell my teenagers not to drink but follow it up with “you can always take an Uber home from the party if you need to” as they are walking out the door. I might as well give them a handful of condoms and tell them not to have sex. Look, I do not condone underage drinking, but if my teenagers are doing it I want them to be safe.
When I was a teenager I experimented with alcohol, but I hid it from my parents. Nowadays, I hear of teens actually asking their parents to buy alcohol for them. Regardless of the fact they think “everyone is doing it” or “it’s no big deal” it is against the law. Not only are teenagers liable to be fined but their driving privileges could also be suspended. As an adult, if you provide alcohol to underage teens, you could also face legal consequences for breaking the minor-in-possession law. This is a huge risk that teenagers do not think about because in their minds it would never happen to them.
Just because I have told my kids over and over again “you can call me, no questions asked,” it does not mean that I am cool with them or their friends drinking. I have to remind them that I am their parent not their friend. I know they are going to make mistakes and I just pray they are small ones. Like all moms, above everything I just want them safe, but I do not want to be the cool mom.
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Kim O’Rourke is the mom of three teenage daughters, two dogs and a wife of 22 years. She tries to find humor in the craziness of everyday life. She shares her stories about parenthood, health and relationships on her blog www.madcrazylife.com