Talk about teen drinking to any group of parents and the responses usually fall into three camps.
There are parents who are firmly in the It is illegal and should not happen camp. There are parents who are trying to somehow hurdle two extremes: the reality of teens drinking and being completely uncomfortable with the idea of teens drinking at their house.
Then there are parents who believe that pretending drinking isn’t going on at “gatherings” and parties is a Fool’s Paradise and further to that, they are comfortable letting underage teens drink in their homes.
The usual defence is: Well they will just go to a park and at least I know they are safe if they are at my place.
I’m a mum to three daughters: two teens and a tween. This year we also have a teen boy living with us who is going to school around the corner. It feels like there are a lot of teens in my house eating a lot of toast.
I know some teens drink, some don’t. I know some teens drink to excess. I know drinking to excess regularly is harmful to developing adolescent brains and teens are more likely to hurt themselves or others when they are drinking. I know that a 14-year-old teenager is very different to a 17-year-old teenager.
I have debated with myself, my husband, family, friends, Google about what my response and duty is as a mother when it comes to teen drinking for both my children and other people’s children – and I have landed in a place that is makeshift but solid.
Jacqueline Lunn share her stance on teen drinking on the This Glorious Mess podcast:
For me, one of the biggest surprises of parenting teens is that I have had to really tap into and understand my own value system. Not the value system of other parents, or my own mum and dad and not even “parenting experts”. My values.
I have come to the decision I cannot knowingly have teens drinking in my house. Particularly teens on the younger end of the spectrum (I think for older teens, I’m still not comfortable but willing to have a conversation). If anything happened at that party – as the adult in charge I would feel responsible.
And things happen when you mix teens, drinking to excess, porn culture, technology. Just listen to your teens or look at the news.
Recently news broke that a 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped at a party and filmed. The footage was distributed amongst teen boys around Sydney.
The girl was unconscious at the time (ask experts or teens themselves and this violence against girls is not an isolated one-off incident). A 15-year-old former private school boy has been charged with aggravated sexual assault. Rapists are responsible for rape, not drinking or short skirts or pink hair, but one of the first questions every parent I know asked was: “Where were the parents at this party?”
It really puts a hole in the oft-used defence of “Well they will just go to a park and at least I know they are safe if they are at my place.” (Plus, there are kids who would not go to the park despite their verbal bravado and are actually looking for an “out” when it comes to drinking).