Guest Opinion

Monday, February 7, 2005

A parent's view of teenage drinking

Several years ago I wrote a letter to this paper telling how I found my child drunk for the first time. They have reprinted it several times and each time, I pray that some parent reads it and begins to pay attention to their child.

I now have a child in the high school again. The drinking situation is worse than it was three years ago. The parents are just as ignorant and I just don't get it. Why aren't they willing to stay up until midnight to check out the condition of their child when they come home? And when they come home drunk, why do they ignore it? Or worse, as has happened recently, lie about where their child was when the student is facing disciplinary action from the school.

The drinking situation crosses economic lines, social barriers, and it pertains to all groups of students in school. Our athletes are drinking, our music students are drinking, and our art students are drinking. Students in the middle school are drinking. And no one is doing anything about it.

It is very difficult for the kids who don't drink. There are very few of them. If they chose to be with their friends, they end up at parties with alcohol. If they don't go to the parties, they are home alone. Peer pressure is terrible. These students are outcasts, mocked and made fun of.

The drinking situation is out of control in this town. Parents, when you are not at home, your child is most likely having a party there. Many times, they are drinking in your home with you present. Just because you are home when kids are at your house, doesn't mean they aren't drinking. You need to occasionally check up on what is going on in your house. I know this from personal experience. Parents, please, become aware of the situation and help do something about it.

Parents, I challenge you to take responsibility for your children. Trusting your child "blindly" in this day and age isn't good enough. I'm sure you have a "good" kid. My child was a great kid, well respected and liked by everyone. But my child drank anyway.

I also challenge you to make your child face the consequences of their actions. The worst thing you can do is lie for your child because what example does that set? Punish your child when they come home drunk instead of ignoring the situation. Every time you ignore the situation, you are giving them permission to drink again. Take their keys away if you know they are drinking and driving. Who cares if they don't like you? Is your child supposed to be your friend? Who controls whom in your house? It's time to take a good, honest look at your child.

Please, let's work together to help control this situation. It takes a village to raise a child. Let's become the village that tames the alcohol monster.

Or at least, let's try.