These are parents who love their kids deeply and fearfully. They really want an answer from me. I always shrug and tell them to do what they think best, because who am I to tell anyone else how to parent their kids? My oldest is 12 so I don’t feel I have any authority or expertise to offer. And I’m scared to offend people by telling them what I really think.
But last week two teenagers, young men I loved, died in an alcohol-related car crash. The two who lived will be forever altered. The car had left a party where a parent was present and had allowed alcohol.
So here’s what I really think.
Parents who allow parties with alcohol in their homes are being selfish. They are protecting their own children, without regard for the other children present at the party. They are too weak to say no to their children. By making a place where alcohol is allowed, their home becomes a gathering place, and denies other parents the opportunity to be with and know their children’s friends.
I’m not sure how parents who allow alcohol justify their reasoning. Maybe their think it’s OK since they drank when they were teenagers and survived. Maybe they think the kids all have designated drivers. Maybe they think other people’s children aren’t their business.
Other people’s children ARE my business. In my classroom, I listen to them talk about alcohol and drug use. I hear what they say about their parents. They don’t like or respect the parents who allow drinking more. In fact, they seem perplexed by the permission, even as they are grateful for it. Teenagers receive so many mixed messages about alcohol. When a parent says it’s OK, how can we possibly expect teenagers to make a different choice?
I can’t change anything about the two families who lost their beloved sons. I can’t ease the grief of the mothers and fathers who will never get to see their sons grow out of this difficult stage, while their sons’ friends eventually will. I can’t stop teenagers from drinking. I can’t make anyone do anything.
But I can do this.
Parents of the children of my friends, I make this oath to you. When your child is in my home, I will treat your child as if he or she were my own. I will not sacrifice your child’s safety for that of my own. Because it is illegal and deadly, I will not allow underage drinking in my home. I will monitor gatherings, looking for alcohol and drug use that may happen despite my disallowing it. I will be strong when my children are angry with me for this stance.
You have my word,
Mother of Leah and Josie
Parenting is terrifying, and I can’t do it alone. I doubt you can either. Please feel free to sign your own name to this oath in the comment section below.