Letter from the Editor

Thursday, October 24, 2002

A mother and a drinking child

Every parent thinks, or hopes, that their child will avoid the pitfalls that are all too obvious in our society. So what happens when it isn't "someone else's problem" any more?

A local mother sent me this heart-felt letter, asking that we share it with others who may think that alcohol abuse can't happen in their families.

She asked that her name not be used. So we'll call it...

A Mother's Awakening

My high school son came home drunk last night. The only reason I know is because I went up to his room to "tuck him in" and to talk to him about his evening. My heart sank as I smelled the alcohol on his breath. The longer I talked to him, I realized how intoxicated he was. I was scared when I thought about him driving home. We've had some other "incidents" happen with him, but I didn't think he was drinking.

We all talked the next day after my husband and I had calmed down. The things he told us scared me to death. He said, "Mom, everyone drinks." Yeah, right. Everyone? My other child, who has never been in trouble, confirmed it. "Yeah, Mom. Everyone drinks. People you wouldn't believe drink."

I asked them, "Are you made fun of if you don't?" They told me that I didn't understand. "EVERYONE drinks." It isn't the "In" thing to do; it is the accepted thing to do.

I asked, what do the other kids' parents think? Did all parents accept it? Were they dumb? How did kids avoid getting caught? They said, "No offense, Mom, but most kids' parents are dumb! And Mom, you don't understand who all is drinking. People you wouldn't believe drink."

They could only come up with three or four kids that they knew who didn't drink. I asked if it was every weekend or just sometimes. In the winter, it is just sometimes but in the summer, every weekend. And they drink in the homes with the parents there but not knowing.

When I was in high school, the "bad" kids were the ones that drank. If you were in music, sports, drama, you didn't drink. That isn't the way it is now. Our athletes are drinking after the ball games. Odds are, if your child is out on the weekend, they are drinking.

My question to the public is, what can we do to change the attitudes? I don't have any answers. I know most parents will open their doors to an alcohol-free party on the weekend. But that isn't the answer. It appears to start happening on a regular basis during the sophomore year. That's when they get their driver's license. They drink AND drive, not drink THEN drive.

Parents, talk to your kids. Even if you are SURE that they aren't drinking, take another look. Smell their breath when they come home. I never dreamt it would happen to our family. We're one of the "Good" families and now we are dealing with kids and alcohol on a level that I didn't want to be at.

- A Storm Lake mother