By KARRYN WHEELANS
I am just about to send my fourth daughter in five years to Schoolies and while I have arranged a pack filled with sunscreen, shampoo, cereal and hand sanitizer, I will NOT be supplying her with alcohol.
Every year a different set of friends, who have kids about to head off to the annual end-of-year freedom (read drink) fest, raise this parenting dilemma and from those who are buying booze for their under-age children, it’s always the same argument.
“At least I know what they are drinking,” they say.
This year many of the girlfriends I went through high school and Schoolies with, are packing off their precious 17-year-olds for the first time, and their views on whether to supply or not, like the coolers we used to consume, are mixed.
I am not burying my head in the Gold Coast sand; I have no doubt my daughter and her mates will celebrate, but I still haven’t changed my mind when it comes to supplying and this is why.
1. Sibling equality.
I didn’t provide any alcohol for the first three daughters so to change tact for the last two would be unfair.
2. It promotes problem solving.
Who buys? When? How much? and what has to be finessed. The questions of weight, transport and storage also have to be resolved.
Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, a popular spot for Schoolies. Image via Schoolies.com
3. It creates an environment of creativity.
I remember with fondness the lengths my friends and I went to, to get West Coast Wine Coolers for our schoolies week. I don’t want to deny my children their glory-day stories to repeat ad nauseam.
(Although for the most part, it was simply a case of walking into the Broadbeach Beer Garden and ordering it, as no-one checked ID. However my parents never gave me alcohol before I left school and now with hindsight, I possibly could attribute my resourcefulness to schoolies)
4. It requires budgeting and financial responsibility.
I am big on the kids taking ownership of themselves.
My husband and I are paying the accommodation, but nothing else. I know many parents who didn’t and aren’t covering this cost, which means their school leavers have had to consider their monetary position well in advance. Fantastic.
In my situation, it means my daughter will have to work out how much she is prepared to pay for alcohol, what food and other entertainment she needs to budget for and whether buying an extra six-pack is worth it, if it means foregoing a meal with her mates. And yes I know there will be some that argue she will just spend her money on drinking. My response is: I have had conversations with her about the dangers and consequences of over-indulgence and so at some point trust in your parenting has to be considered. (Also she likes eating too much)