Yesterday my husband and I were at a party to celebrate the middle school graduation of one of our son’s classmates and closest friends.
I still can’t believe that the same group of boys that kept me up all night at their first sleepover when they were eight are going to be entering high school this September.
It’s been an amazing experience watching this group of boys grow up and become teenagers.
I’m excited to see what these next four years are going to bring. I wonder if they’ll remain friends, or if one or more will go off in another direction and choose new friends.
While the other moms and I were discussing the changes that will be occurring and the choices that the boys will face, I brought up my concern about alcohol and drug use among high schoolers and how to help my son make the best choices.
One mom voiced an opinion that I’ve heard many, many, times before from other parents. She said she certainly didn’t want her kids to drink or try drugs, but she was being realistic and knew that they would most likely experiment.
Though this is a popular viewpoint, it’s one I take great exception to.
We’re giving our kids mixed messages about alcohol and drugs.
They hear in school that drinking and drugs are dangerous choices. They learn how alcohol can affect your judgment and make it easier to engage in other risky behaviors like unprotected sex or driving under the influence.
In middle school, my son’s health class teacher made them write letters addressed to themselves where they promise that they won’t smoke, drink or have unprotected sex in high school.
Yet so many parents take it as a foregone conclusion that their kids will engage in underage drinking and other risky behavior.
There are phrases I hear again and again. “Kids will be kids,” some say. Others will chime in with, “after all we did it.”
Really? Is this the criteria we are going to base our parenting on?
I get it. My son is growing up, and he is going to have to make choices for himself.
I want him to spread his wings and discover who he is. And as much as some people think I’m being unrealistic, I do know that he is going to make mistakes along the way.
But, I want him to know where I stand on engaging in behaviors that are at best risky and at worst illegal and life altering.
I never want Tom to say that I wasn’t clear about my feelings so I am writing them here, for all to see.
The legal drinking age in this country is 21. Please know that I will never allow you to have alcohol in my house or in my presence until you reach that age. Please also know that no good has ever come from a group of teenagers drinking. It’s a recipe for all kinds of disasters.
If you should choose to drink you will not only be breaking the rules of our house, you will be breaking the law.
If you get stopped for driving under the influence, or the police get called to a party where you have been drinking at, you may be in a position where we can’t protect you.
Always call me and your dad. Always. No matter what you have done. Don’t ever follow up a bad choice with one that’s worse just because you’re afraid of disappointing us or making us angry.
Will we be happy? Of course not. But we would much rather get you and any friend that wants to come with you home safely, then get a call that you are never coming home.
Let me be clear that the fact that we love you and will stand by you does not in any way mean we are okay with you doing things to your body that you and I both know are not good for you.
There will be some who will tell you that your parents are being unreasonable and totally unrealistic. Some may tell you that you are a teenager and that it’s a rite of passage to get drunk. They may even regale you with stories of their own youthful mistakes.
Listen to your own heart and trust your gut. Also know there is nothing cool about waking up in your own vomit, or having a DUI before you are 18.
I love you so much that I don’t care if you hate me. I am very happy and proud to be your mother. I am not your friend.