Like many reading this, I am a parent of teenagers. In addition to parenting, I have also had the unique experience of working with hundreds of teenagers as a profession for well over a decade.
I have witnessed more alcohol-induced tragedy than I care to recall.
I soon realized that teenage parties where alcohol is being consumed are far too commonplace among high school aged children, especially from Grade 10 and up.
Now, as a parent of teens I have began to hear “… but tons of my friends are allowed to do it!”
My oldest teen rightfully claims that many of his teenage friends are allowed to not only go to these types of parties but in many cases, the parents are home and allow their underage, ever so impressionable teenagers to host the party.
This is the target of this letter: the parents who contribute to teenage alcohol abuse and the many tragedies, immediate or yet future, that are associated with it.
Recently, I confronted a parent who allowed underage teenagers (including my 16-year-old son) to consume alcohol in her home without my consent, without proper supervision and, no less important, with complete and utter disregard for the laws of our land. Her childlike response was that it was my teens’ personal responsibility to limit their own alcohol consumption, not hers. She just didn’t get it and attempted to defend her irresponsibility by saying that she allowed them to drink all the while expecting them to control themselves.
I attempted to help her understand that it was actually her responsibility to be the adult, the parent, and to ensure that as one, she was not contributing to teenage alcohol consumption and the dangers we all know go along with it. No matter what I said, she was just too daft to comprehend what I was saying.
I fear, from observation, that Red Deer has far too many of these types of parents mixed in with the more responsible ones.
Parents who allow their underage teens to host gatherings where they consume alcohol with their underage friends are participating in a form of child abuse and they are breaking the law. They are involved in criminal activity and are opening themselves up to lawsuits. Furthermore, they are betraying fellow parents and contributing to teenage alcohol abuse (binge drinking) at an age when a young person is physiologically unable to deal with such a powerful substance.
Responsible parents and especially the police need to hold these pseudo-parents responsible for their reckless and abusive behaviour. I wasn’t comfortable confronting that parent but I knew it was the right thing to do and believe that it will make them think a little deeper about the issues. If in the same situation one day, I encourage you to do the same.
Imagine your teenager or their friend waking up in your home stone cold dead on your watch. Or imagine your teen in someone else’s home, barely supervised and falling to sleep impaired. Then imagine getting that knock on your door, the one that lets you know they are gone forever.
It is our responsibility to be parents first and best friends second. Getting these two backwards can have serious consequences. Allowing your underage children and their underage friends to consume alcohol in your home assuming that you are providing a safer alternative is a fallacy. By doing so, you are simply part of the cycle of abuse — part of the problem. It’s about time you raised the bar and became part of the solution?
There are many other healthy and safe alternatives that we can provide for our children and their friends.