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The Debate: Teen Drinking

Whether we parents like it or not, many teens drink alcohol before they reach the legal drinking age. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 51 percent of those aged 18 to 20 were "current" alcohol users in 2005. A look at those younger than 18 shows 30 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds and 15 percent of 14- and 15-year-olds also called themselves current drinkers of alcohol.

The question is, what should parents do about teen drinking? Some choose to host teen drinking parties, which can easily spiral to include 100 kids thanks to text messaging, and gather up the kids' keys so they can't drive. These parents' theory goes something like this: They are going to drink anyway, so I'd rather it be under my roof. And if I eliminate the risk of any teen driving, then I'm keeping them safe in the process. Other parents say, no, absolutely not. The drinking age is 21 and that's that. Alcohol is a drug and drug use is bad for you. And they don't want someone else's parent hosting the parties and supplying their children with the alcohol. Your own kid: fine. Mine, definitely not!

Some parents lock their household alcohol in a safe. Others don't keep it in the house at all. Still others think nothing of having it in unlocked cabinets in the house.

A relative with teenagers recently argued the point that the she drank as a teen (plus, the legal drinking age back then was 18) and it's unrealistic for her to think her kids don't drink. Instead, her focus is on making sure they don't drive after drinking and making them call to tell her where they are sleeping if not at home.

How do you think parents should handle teen drinking and parties? If you support punishing parents for supplying alcohol to teens, what's the appropriate punishment? Is it extensive jail time like the parents in Charlottesville, Va., are serving? Is it a fine, like the parents in Bethesda received? Or something else?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Teens
Previous: Do They Know Who Mom Is? | Next: Life's Small -- and Big -- Lessons

Comments


While I don't encourage underage drinking I think it is putting one's head in the sand to think that children don't drink. If the drinking age was restored to 18, the adventure would disappear. Also, fewer would be driving while drunk.

Finally, I think Governor Kaine shoudl commute the sentence (if not pardon) the Charlottesville parents who are imprisoned to make an example. An example of what? There should be an public uproar about this unjust sentence.

Posted by: old dad | July 6, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I am so horrified by the idea of parents throwing a big drinking party for teenagers! That's just not okay.

Parents should be aware that sometimes teenagers drink, and that they must know how to be safe if they get drunk (or if their friends get drunk!). And yes, parents should be willing to discuss alcohol and maybe even provide it for their teenagers in their house (maybe along with a few close teenage friends whose parents approve). However, in that kind of a situation, cell phones should be taken away in addition to keys - no text messaging allowed!

In general, I am a big proponent of parents of teenagers allowing their kids to do "bad" things (like drinking and having sex) at home because it is a safe environment. But that is so different from throwing a wild party, which is unsafe and irresponsible! I'm not sure it calls for jail time for the first party - but certainly a big fine.

Mostly I'm saddened by the fact that our communities have degraded to this point.

Karen Rayne
http://www.adolescentsexualitytoday.blogspot.com

Posted by: Karen Rayne | July 6, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in Northern Virginia, and didn't drink in high school. Few (if any) of my friends did, either, at least until the summer before we all went to college. Now, I'm sure a lot of that is due to the fact that I went to a magnet school where we were all far-flung, so going to a party wouldn't have been a simple matter of walking a few blocks. Also, we were all smart overacheivers...the peer pressure just wasn't there, not to mention the fact that we were all so busy...but my younger brother (a rising HS senior) doesn't drink either, and he goes to the neighborhood public school with friends just down the street. I think the biggest factor in preventing my brother and I from partying in high school was/is my parents' relatively relaxed attitude about alcohol in our home. To this day, I've never seen my parents drunk, but my mom and dad were completely cool with me having a beer or wine with dinner, or a margarita on a special occasion, provided I was home (not driving) for the evening. I just never saw the need to sneak around to get booze. One of my mom's friends once told her she was an 'idiot' if she thought I didn't drink in high school, which I thought was just sad...why assume your kid is doing it, or even wants to?! Well-adjusted kids, with a well-adjusted attitude towards alcohol, will exhibit far less dangerous behavior. Did I occasionally binge-drink in college? Sure, par for the course...but there were other contributing factors then besides the novelty of available alcohol. Rather than resign yourself to a teenager's poor decisions (or worse, enable/encourage them), why not initiate the conversation about, and the opportunity to practice, good ones?

Posted by: Arlington 22YO | July 6, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I think the jail time for the Virginia mom was a bit much, but I do think there should be stiff penalties for giving alcohol to teens, especially teens who are not your own children.

I know the arguments about teaching them responsible drinking at home, etc. But the fact is, the younger you start drinking, the more likely you are to have problems with alcohol. I never drank until my mid-twenties and it didn't bother me a bit. I do remember freshmen girls at college getting date raped by senior boys while intoxicated - and I went to a small and very conservative college.

With my own 5 kids (2 are currently teens, 13 and 16), my expectation is that they will not drink, and I monitor the places they are going, the parties, the parental supervision, etc. They certainly aren't allowed to just call and say "I'm spending the night at so and so's".

I know there has been some experimentation, which we've talked about, but I do not condone it, and I continue to hold out the value of "don't do it" - the potential bad consequences far outweigh any value you are getting from the experience.

Finally, I'd be completely horrified if another parent ever gave alcohol to my kids, and I'd never let my kid, of any age, go to their house again. I call to make sure parents are going to be around to supervise, even for my 16 year old. If a parent betrayed that responsibility by doing something illegal with my teen, I wouldn't trust them again.

And you know what - my teens actually appreciate this level of attention and they feel more secure. I talk to them a lot too, and they understand that this is not about control, but about protecting them so that they can reach adulthood without some permanent scars that they very much regret.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm in the "let's keep it safe and everyone can have a good time" camp. Also, I would rather have my teenagers learn the effects that alcohol has on them under parental supervision rather than experience it with a group of their tipsy peers.

BTW: I think half the fun of drinking for those who are underage is the knowledge that it is illegal in the first place; hence, the forbidden fruit factor plays a role.

Posted by: Lil Husky | July 6, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

As a parent of 3 former teens, I strongly suggest not serving alchohol to teens. Nor, should you allow kids to bring beer to impromptu parties. This is for the reason, that you, the parent, not the kids face jail time.

Of course, this is normally a losing battle, as they will sneak it in other ways. It also means being a nosy jerk, popping up every few minutes and embarrassing yourself and kid. But it must be done. The politics are against you.

It is almost better for your kid to have the unapproved party when the parents are away. At least liability-wise for the parent. ( Almost)

One thing though. Once the kids are 18, the law will not impute the parent supplied the alchohol found on the kid ( at the party or thereafter). This from an attorney friend in Fairfax. Of, course the parent cannot, in fact, have supplied the alchohol.

Posted by: Parent of 3 | July 6, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

As a parent of 3 former teens, I strongly suggest not serving alchohol to teens. Nor, should you allow kids to bring beer to impromptu parties. This is for the reason, that you, the parent, not the kids face jail time.

Of course, this is normally a losing battle, as they will sneak it in other ways. It also means being a nosy jerk, popping up every few minutes and embarrassing yourself and kid. But it must be done. The politics are against you.

It is almost better for your kid to have the unapproved party when the parents are away. At least liability-wise for the parent. ( Almost)

One thing though. Once the kids are 18, the law will not impute the parent supplied the alchohol found on the kid ( at the party or thereafter). This from an attorney friend in Fairfax. Of, course the parent cannot, in fact, have supplied the alchohol.

Posted by: Parent of 3 | July 6, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

As a parent of 3 former teens, I strongly suggest not serving alchohol to teens. Nor, should you allow kids to bring beer to impromptu parties. This is for the reason, that you, the parent, not the kids face jail time.

Of course, this is normally a losing battle, as they will sneak it in other ways. It also means being a nosy jerk, popping up every few minutes and embarrassing yourself and kid. But it must be done. The politics are against you.

It is almost better for your kid to have the unapproved party when the parents are away. At least liability-wise for the parent. ( Almost)

One thing though. Once the kids are 18, the law will not impute the parent supplied the alchohol found on the kid ( at the party or thereafter). This from an attorney friend in Fairfax. Of, course the parent cannot, in fact, have supplied the alchohol.

Posted by: Parent of 3 | July 6, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I can personally relate to this topic. The teenage drinking for my son started at my divorce (trigger event) two yearss ago when he was 17. I chose to uphold the law and NOT allow my teen to have alcohol at my house. I am not naive enough to know that he is not enjoying alcoholic beverages at other locations; I just could not allow it at my house. It became an actual "game" I think with my son. Knowing the "house rules" related to alcohol, he tried to sneak it in anyway he could. A watchful neighbor noticed someone sneaking a bag in my basement window well and notified me; I went out and one of the friends had put a whole case of beer there for my son!! My son hid hard alcohol in his room and in my garage. I chose to do frequent searches and I emptied anything I found. My son was told he had a choice - that he follow the rules of the house and not have alcohol beverages in the house or he chose not to live there. I did this on the advise of a good friend who was "wild" in his teenage years, but since calmed down. The finale came when my son decided to throw a party when I was out of town at my house. His Dad did come to the house with police and busted the party. My son moved out and didn't talk to me for months. He drinks what I feel is excessive (more than a Sat. night field party). He appears to drink to drunkedness at least 4 times a week.

Even though his dad busted the party, part of the problem is that once we separated his Dad allowed him to drink alcohol with him. Under the same pretense as the Charlottesville parents, feeling it was better to do in his presence than at an unknown location and circumstances. All that did was give his seal of approval on the drinking.

Should the drinking age be lowered - I think so. But since it isn't; as a parent, I do my part to enforce the rule. But it hasn't been easy - the price has been high.

BTW, I am a parent that would bend over backwards for my kids... I never imagined I'd be dealing with issues like this. I do feel guilt that I helped initiate this situation because of the divorce and because as an adult, I do enjoy some red wine. I know as soon as this problem started I should have eliminated any drinking on my part and I failed to do that.

Posted by: C.W. | July 6, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Underage drinking is illegal. Drug use is illegal. Robbery is illegal. Murder is illegal. Beginning to see a pattern here? If you allow them to drink in your house, why not allow them to rob and murder, too, just because you know they're going to do it anyway. Doesn't make sense.

I have an acquaintance whose father 'taught' her how to drink. He allowed it in their home. He also paid for her college. Now she's a dysfunctional alchoholic with a Master's degree and can't hold a job.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Do I let my 18 and 19 year olds drink alcohol in my house? Yes, of course I do. First, I want them to understand alcohol and its effects. I want them to learn that alcohol is a drug, but that taken in moderation it can have positive side effects (especially things like red wine). Since they've grown up with wine being a part of church ceremonies (Catholics, partyin' hard again :-), I want them to understand that. Proper consumption and use of alcohol is fine; binge drinking, excessive consumption, driving under the influence, etc. can be fatal.

And yes, I grew up when the legal drinking age was 18, and quite frankly I think that the current limit of 21 is absurd. These people can go die for their country, they can vote for their leaders, they can smoke tobacco, but they can't drink a glass of wine? Inconsistent much?

Now, do I let my 15-year old drink alcohol in the house? No, that's too young. Do I provide alcohol to friends of my older teens? No, the potential penalty is too much. Hypocritical much? Possibly, but that's the way I'm choosing to live my life.

Posted by: Anon for this one | July 6, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

In response to Parent of 3's comment, I think it should be noted that even if the kid is 18 or older, the parents still do face liability when teens are drinking at their house (even if they did not supply any of the alcohol) because it could be construed under the eyes of the law that the parents provided the facilities for teenage drinking to occur. If an 18 year old got drunk at a friends house and got in an accident on his way home, the victims could easily come after the kid who supplied the alcohol and the parents whose house that party was held at...

Posted by: jah1205 | July 6, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Whether parents drink or not, they should educate their children about drinking. If parents drink, they should talk to their children about limits and safety when you drink more than you should.

My dad hardly ever drank, my mom not at all. I had no desire to drink in High School or even when I arrived at college. However, two months into my freshman year at a Big 10 school, peer pressure kicked in and I started drinking socially and binge drinking occasionally. Because my parents had basically never drank, I had no idea how much was too much, or what to do when someone "passed out" from alcohol. Thankfully, I had a friend whose parents had allowed her to have a drink or two at home under their supervision (like the 22-year old from Arlington) and who had also conversed with her about drinking and safety levels. She watched us like a mother hen, made us drink plenty of water, and knew her safety limits.

I intend to raise my children so they also have this knowledge. Ignorance and inexperience won't help your child when she inevitably gets into tough situations of peer pressure or is surrounded by drunken, passed out classmates in the college dorm.

Posted by: Alexandria 26y/o | July 6, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

In response to Parent of 3's comment, I think it should be noted that even if the kid is 18 or older, the parents still do face liability when teens are drinking at their house (even if they did not supply any of the alcohol) because it could be construed under the eyes of the law that the parents provided the facilities for teenage drinking to occur. If an 18 year old got drunk at a friends house and got in an accident on his way home, the victims could easily come after the kid who supplied the alcohol and the parents whose house that party was held at...

Posted by: jah1205 | July 6, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I have talked about this alot. We dont need to worry yet because our kids are only 3 and 5. But, we used to be in the camp of having the party so they would be safe. I have to admit though that the Charlottsville couple forced the point home that this was not okay. I would never lie to another parent though about that person's child.

I see both sides of this argument and I am glad I am not there yet. When my husband and I have wine with dinner, my daughter asks if she can have it. I let her have a sip. She thinks its disgusting :)

As for the illegality argument, I need to look at the definitions of the law, but I do not believe that in most states its illegal to serve your own children alcohol in your own home. If I had teenagers now, I think that is how I would approach it -- its 4th of July and you are home with me, yes you can have a beer. I dont want alcohol to be taboo, but I also dont want to go to jail so my kid can party. Also, it depends on the kid's age. I am not serving a beer to my 14 year old :)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I think this whole idea is a catch-22. I not only never drank in high school, my parents didn't drink, either (even though we had a bar downstairs that had liquor -70's house).
My best friend, on the other hand, had parents who regularly had beers with dinner, let her have beer, and even let me try one! (Gross) - And while my parents always told me to never drink or try smoking (and I never did), my friend was allowed both "in her own home."

Well, guess which of us graduated high school? Guess which went on to smoke and do other things from friends in high school, and eventually dropped out?

Parents, you can't dismiss the law because you don't like it, or because you think it's silly because kids will do whatever.

Even if they do, why make it any easier for them?
Why aren't your standards that they never do those things and instead are straight-lace kids who excel in school?
Do you even think this is a debate in other countries that are kicking out butts in academics?

What happened to parents with backbones that kept an eye on kids? Is this hippie-era reflux? (and I'm 28!)

Posted by: I agree, anonymous | July 6, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

FYI to all of you sanctimoniously writing about this issue, in most states (including VA and MD), you can serve alcohol to your own children in your home. Yes, it's perfectly legal.

Now, continue on with the self-righteous arguments on one side and the alcoholic-enablers on the other. (Note: there is a middle ground, but as usual, blog posters can't find it.)

Posted by: Ryan | July 6, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Do you even think this is a debate in other countries that are kicking out butts in academics?

What happened to parents with backbones that kept an eye on kids? Is this hippie-era reflux? (and I'm 28!)

Posted by: I agree, anonymous | July 6, 2007 09:08 AM

I dont think this is an issue in other countries because they dont have drinking ages. In Europe, kids drink with their parents whenever they want.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

My philosophy is this: I really do not care if my children drink, but I would never let them know that.

For the last... approximately 10,000 years... teenage children have defied the will of their parents. It is a natural part of growing up. Better that they should defy me on an issue that I don't care about, no?

We talk about drinking and safety issues, of course. In the context of, "When you are 21 and this is legal, here's what you need to know."

By the way, throwing a drinking party for your children and other people's children is NOT ok. You don't get to make this decision for me, and anyhow it is bad parenting for your own children. If they know that you approve of drinking, they will drink, but they will find something else that you don't approve of. Just wait.

Posted by: Bob | July 6, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is only a tween, but it's only a year or two before I have to deal with this. My husband and I have an occasional glass of wine or a beer for supper and she sees us drinking responsibly. Anytime we have an opportunity, we talk about responsible drinking and our views. These discussions happen when a neighborhood get together and someone drinking too much, or when the neighbors children throw a party when the parents aren't home (only once, but made a big impression on my daughter. Especially when one of the kids drove into someone's house).

I think that the drinking age should return to what it was when I was in HS, beer at 18, wine and hard liquor at 21. I think this would really reduce binge drinking by kids. But since the drinking age is 21, I don't condone parents having parties with alcohol. It's illegal, my daughter knows it's illegal and so do the parents throwing the parties.

My goal is to ensure that my child understands what it means to drink responsibly. If someone provides her alcohol without my knowledge I want her to call and have me pick her up instead of drive with someone drinking. That will only happen if you build the lines of communication early. Will it stop her from drinking in HS, maybe not but at least she will think twice.

Posted by: Concerned Mom | July 6, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

To clarify my earlier comment - my parents NEVER in a MILLION YEARS would have let any of my friends, or my brother's friends, drink at our house. They were (and still are) the parents who ALWAYS called the house where the party was being held to make sure parents were home and supervising (and not serving alcohol). After I went to college and would occasionally go out with friends from school or work during breaks, I had a 1200 curfew, and my mom or dad would wait up...I can't even imagine how my parents would have reacted if they even suspected I had been drinking and driving. And even today, when I can drink legally, it's completely frowned upon at my parents' house to have more than one drink (maybe two on special occasions) at a sitting. So I think there's a fine, but important, line between "permissive" and "supervisory".

Posted by: Arlington 22YO | July 6, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

A couple comments - murder is always illegal, drinking is only illegal for 21 years. Murder is wrong for many reasons. I think that is a huge jump.

I wonder if it would be better for children to start drinking at 18, when they are mostly at home and have some degree of adult supervision. As oppossed to going to college, drinking heavily under the supervision of other drunk college kids. Don't know on that one.

However, until the law changes, drinking under 21 is illegal. My children are allowed to have sips and when they are older may have a small glass of champagne at a wedding or on New Years, but that will be it for sanctioned drinking. Hopefully we will be able to teach them the importance of drinking responsibly so when they go to college they don't over do it to a dangerous extent.

Posted by: Burke | July 6, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

When I was in high school (15+ years ago), my dad offered to throw a "lock-in" party for my friends and I after prom. I'm not sure he discussed this with my mom. *I* was the one telling him that no, it's not a good idea, and moreover I'm not interested. I didn't drink until I was 21 (well, OK, a glass of wine when I was in France that summer), and a lot of my choices had to do with the fact that my dad *expected* me to get sloppy drunk by the time I graduated high school because those were the bad choices he made at a misguided youth. Boy howdy, did I show him, huh? I'd like to say that it was all successful reverse psychology, but I really don't think so.

The upshot is, DH and I have talked about what we would like to do with our kids (when we have them)...namely demonstrate responsible habits, allow them to participate in a very limited fashion (as I saw parents do in France) and talk openly about the alcohol-abuse issues we have on both sides of our families and our own good and bad choices.

And hope it works :)

Posted by: librarylady | July 6, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

You know, the reason the drinking age went up to 21 was the drinking and driving deaths. Those of you who are pining for the days when the age was 18 apparently don't remember your 18-year-old friends buying you beer when you were 16, or the cars full of kids killed on the backroads. I remember it all too clearly and am happy with the age where it is.

Posted by: Pete | July 6, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

While teen drinking may be a fact of life, I truly don't understand parents who think its OK to publicly serve alcohol to minors, especially other peoples' children. Doing so creates a community attitude that getting drunk is just another acceptable form of entertainment.

I hail from the Chicago suburb which was the site of the infamous girl's powder puff football game, where upperclassmen "initiated" lower classmen by smearing them with pig feces, etc., all while in a drunken stupor. Video footage of the festivities was all over the news a few years ago. Several students were injured and over twenty students were suspended or expelled from school. The parents who bought the kegs of beer for the event were prosecuted and fined. As embarassing as it was, I'm grateful that the event was exposed in the international media because it made parents around here realize just how dangerous it is to break the law and provide alcohol to minors.

Posted by: MP | July 6, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Europe does have a drinking age to be served in restaurants and bars. It's usually around 14 and is not as strictly enforced as here.
I believe education is the key to most everything. So I'll be educating my children about alcohol and drugs and sex and all of that stuff. As for other people's kids, they should be taught by their parents- so no I won't be serving them in my house. I also think that generalizations don't help anyone. Each situation is different and each child and parent is different.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

There is a big difference between responsible drinking and getting sloppy drunk just because you hit a certain age. Wine is used in some religions as part of the service and members of the Jewish religion allegedly have the lowest rate of alcholism. At least that's what the prof said in our college class on alcohol and society. BTW, Baptists can now drink in public.

So, at age 21 or whenever your parents let you, you can drink yourself stupid, barf up your guts, wet your pants, embarrass yourself and your parents, have a banging hangover. Congratulations, you're a grown up. Hah! Think again. Being an adult means more than being able to drink yourself into a coma.

Posted by: Anon today | July 6, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Reality is our kids are getting both drugs and alcohol at a very young age - even down in middle school. Even in the best of communities. There are too many over 21 people hanging out with teens that provide drugs and alcohol. I feel my son is using alcohol as a way to deal with life issues; versus an occassional partying event. I know too many kids where this is the case. It is really a tragic thing. My son has even found a store that sells him alcohol; If I only knew which one....

Posted by: Starlight | July 6, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

To "I agree, anonymous" who posted at 9:08: "Do you even think this is a debate in other countries that are kicking out butts in academics?"

___________________

Ahh - as an Army brat who grew up all over the world and has done a lot of traveling as an adult, this one is near and dear to my heart.

Almost all of those countries have legal drinking ages that are far lower than the US. In large parts of Europe - Germany, France, Belgium, the UK - the legal drinking age is 16. In Italy it's 14. In essentially all of those countries it's not illegal for younger children to drink under supervision (in the UK, 14 year olds can have alcohol with a meal in a restaurant as long as an adult in the same party orders it for the 14 year old).

In Asia it's sometimes older, but still. I used to go to Hong Kong a lot on business. There's no minimum drinking age in Hong Kong (but you do have to be 18 to purchase alcohol). That took me a while to get used to - NO MINIMUM DRINKING AGE! In Korea it's 18 or 19 (you can drink in the year you turn 19, even before your birthday); in Japan it's 20. It varies in India, from 18 on up to some states where it's 25!

China has no minimum drinking age, and there used to be no minimum age to buy alcohol although starting last year you have to be 18 to buy.

So, the bottom line is that this usually isn't a topic of discussion in countries kicking our academic butts, because their drinking age is so much younger!

Posted by: Army Brat | July 6, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I think this whole issue is muddied in the US by the fact that the drinking age is so unreasonable.
In Canada, some provinces are at 18 and some are at 19, and yet teen drinking is if anything less of a problem than in the US.
Let's be realistic, an 18-year-old should NOT be considered a child. Grouping them together with 14-year-olds under the law is unrealistic. I, as a parent, would have a hard time explaining to my 18-year-old why it wasn't allowed--the argument that "it's the law" doesn't hold much water when the law is clearly wrong. We overturned other bad laws (the one that said women couldn't vote, for instance).
We should overturn this one too.
Children (ie, the people that are not full-grown, and can't drive or vote or fight wars) will have a much easier time waiting if they know they'll be allowed to drink once they reach adulthood, instead of having to wait a few more frustrating years after that.

Posted by: worker bee | July 6, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I think this is one of those issues where parents' behavior really is mirrored in their kids. I mean, what purpose is there to buying a keg or a mess of hard liquor for a group of children other than to facilitate them getting drunk? A keg is a LOT of beer. Unless they're throwing a party so huge that a keg will cover exactly one solo cup of beer per party guest, that kind of enabling is only encouraging further stupid decisions (i.e. binge drinking), not supervised & responsible social drinking. The young teens (middle school and up) I've known through sports coaching to have the biggest drinking problems are the ones whose parents are the neighborhood lushes - bringing mixed drinks in soda bottles to afternoon swim meets, or throwing block-party keggers of their own where they and their friends get hammered. In these cases, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Posted by: coach | July 6, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I have four kids, ages 23, 16, 11, and 7. We have been very frank and upfront with all of our children about the dangers of using alcohol and drugs, using our own stories from our younger years (we grew up in the 70s, after all). My husband and I come from families with very different parenting styles - his parents were older and more permissive, and mine were younger and very punitive. Neither extreme seemed to work, so we have decided to strike the balance between the two.

Our son, the oldest, drank very little as a teen. Our 16-year-old started drinking and other dumb teenage stuff when she was 13. She can't get alcohol from us, but she has no problem getting it elsewhere. She *knows* how we feel about her drinking, smoking cigarettes, etc., and that she can be arrested for her activities at any time. She also knows that I won't host a drinking party for her and her friends. Fortunately, she doesn't drink much.

She has been in two car wrecks over the past year (both involving teenage drivers; one of which was alcohol-related), and she has learned some valuable lessons about drinking and driving as a result (and no, she does not drive).

My point is that even if you try everything in your power to keep your kids away from unhealthy activities like drinking, they ultimately make their own choices. My hope is that my daughter will learn from the mistakes she has made and stop the stupid stuff as she grows up.

Posted by: I've been down this road... | July 6, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Bad parents!! Bad Parents!! Baaad!!! I read the first few posts here and wonder how the human race will survive another generation with all of these incompetent parents. No, you don't give kids alcohol, they're not mature enough to make all of these right decisions that you think you've taught them. Why? Because they are drunk on ALCOHOL!!! Yes, you send parent to prision for giving kids something that can kill them in many ways. Are you sure that you can keep all of them contained within your house? What if just one leaves and is killed in a drunk driving accident? Do you want to start them down the path to alcoholism?

You want them to have sex at home? Why? so you can videotape it and watch it later? Geez. STOP TRYING TO BE YOUR KIDS FRIENDS AND BE THEIR PARENTS.

Posted by: Old Drunk | July 6, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm a teacher at a private high school in Fairfax. As much as we try to curb the glamorous image of drinking and partying in the eyes of the students, that image persists. Kids will come into school on Monday and talk in between classes about some crazy party they'd been to over the weekend. Younger kids will overhear, and will try to enter into those social circles. Having talked with parents in my capacity as a teacher, I find that the kids who stay out of the teen drinking culture are generally those for whom alcohol is not a mystery; some of their parents forbid it, some allow it, but the kids who can keep above the fray are generally those who have had some supervised experience with alcohol.

Now, obviously, there will be anecdotal evidence to support any take on this argument, and what I offer is nothing more than that. It seems to me, however, that teenagers who are aware of their tolerance and how they are affected by alcohol are less likely to drink too much and find themselves in life-threatening situations. Those posting that alcohol is a dangerous drug are absolutely right. It is, however, a ubiquitous drug, a predator that feeds on peer pressure and ignorance. It is my opinion that parents should let their kids know what they're up against, and how to handle it.

Posted by: Fairfax Teacher | July 6, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

part of the reason underage drinking is not such a big deal in europe is that the late teens & early twenty year olds who are drinking are far less likely to own a car. that is one of the biggest differences between our country and most other countries. the fact that some of these kids are driving after drinking should be part of the discussion. that is also one of the reason europeans don't really discuss this issue. they have manage to hide behind the lower drunken driving rate.

Posted by: quark | July 6, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

To Pete:

I'm not really sure how the drinking age being 21 has any positive effect on drinking and driving, and from personal experience I can tell you it has exactly the opposite effect. When I was in HS (5 years ago) getting alcohol was no problem, however finding a place to drink it was. We couldn't go to bars and our parent's wouldn't let us drink at their houses so we retreated to the only safe place we had: our cars.

We would drive around on back roads, 5-6 people in a car, passing around a bottle of vodka or slamming a case of beer. Of course this was a horrible, potentially deadly idea, but we felt we had no choice; it was the only safe place to drink. When telling these stories to friends in college many reported similar experiences and I'm sure it's not a unique phenomenon.

When teenagers can't drink at home, can't drink at a bar, but have a car they can drive anywhere and do anything in without anyone seeing, it seems pretty obvious drinking and driving increases.

Posted by: JaHerer22 | July 6, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

To Pete:

I'm not really sure how the drinking age being 21 has any positive effect on drinking and driving, and from personal experience I can tell you it has exactly the opposite effect. When I was in HS (5 years ago) getting alcohol was no problem, however finding a place to drink it was. We couldn't go to bars and our parent's wouldn't let us drink at their houses so we retreated to the only safe place we had: our cars.

We would drive around on back roads, 5-6 people in a car, passing around a bottle of vodka or slamming a case of beer. Of course this was a horrible, potentially deadly idea, but we felt we had no choice; it was the only safe place to drink. When telling these stories to friends in college many reported similar experiences and I'm sure it's not a unique phenomenon.

When teenagers can't drink at home, can't drink at a bar, but have a car they can drive anywhere and do anything in without anyone seeing, it seems pretty obvious drinking and driving increases.

Posted by: JaHerer22 | July 6, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I am all for the idea of instructing responsible drinking practices. Given the danger in my family (a genetic predisposition to alcoholism) I think that I can provide an example how this can be done.

My parents are (still) the glass of wine/beer with dinner sort. They would always have a designated driver (when I was older, this was me) if we went out to eat and they wanted to have something to drink. So in that sense they were leading by example.

Moreover, my parents took opportunities presented to allow us try alcohol within limits. A sip of wine (or watered down wine) durring Jewish holidays or when we went to visit my uncle in Europe. This evolved into a glass or other small serving as I got older. I remember hating alcohol when I was young (so bitter!) but I followed my parents examples. When I was old enough to experiment, there was no desire to do so (since I pretty much knew what it was about).

I now drink responsibly, and I would like to think my parents took a balanced view of the issue at hand. They kept what they did legal and yet allowed us to know what alcohol was (and not as the result of a "supervised" binge). As a side effect it also taught me a good deal about the "culture" of high quality alcohol, something that I enjoy in part because of a mentality of quality over quantity.

Posted by: David S | July 6, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

To Old Drunk -- how old are your kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

quark: good point--in fact aren't European levels of drunk driving lower across all age groups, not just young people?
In Europe there is much less of a car culture: more people live in neighborhoods or towns, instead of suburbs. They can walk or bicycle to where they need to be. I think this is a healthier way to live on a whole bunch of levels. Because, unfortunately, it isn't just kids that make the dumb choice to drink and drive--it's people of any age who want to drink, don't know when to stop, and don't have any other way to get home.

Posted by: worker bee | July 6, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Arlington22YO is wise beyond her years. Very good posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

My parents were incredibly strict about drinking. There was never any alcohol in our house and it was well established that my brother and I would be very grounded if we dared think about alcohol.

Guess who got alcohol poisoning her first weekend of college? And continued to party her butt off and make very bad decisions for the next few years?

I wish my parents had taken the mystery out of alcohol by allowing a little wine at dinner and talking to me about how to handle it. I've been legal for nearly seven years now, but I still occasionally catch myself thinking "hmm, I should order a drink just because I can!"

Posted by: DC 27yo | July 6, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I am 20 and drank for the first time my freshmen year of high school. First off the drinking age being 21 is ridiculous and we are the only country in the world that has that. It clearly should be 18 as it used to be. I was just in Europe for 4 months and they dont have nearly the binge drinking problem that we do. This is because of the laid back culture that accepts casual drinking as teens. Next parents when you dont allow your kid to sleep out you are making a huge mistake. They will likely drink and drive to try to stay out of trouble with you. Whats worse letting your kid sleep out or letting him drink and drive? Parents if you are extremely strict with your child then you will be making a big mistake in the long run. They will get to college and be exposed to MANY new things that they wont be prepared for if you baby them in high school. Oh by the way dont get me started on the "Party Busters" in Montgomery county another example of restrictions causing more danger (i.e. hiding in woods or you guessed it drinking and driving) than preventing it. The fact that I am going to be a senior in college and "cant" have a beer with a meal is crazy.

Posted by: pcd45 | July 6, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I am 20 and drank for the first time my freshmen year of high school. First off the drinking age being 21 is ridiculous and we are the only country in the world that has that. It clearly should be 18 as it used to be. I was just in Europe for 4 months and they dont have nearly the binge drinking problem that we do. This is because of the laid back culture that accepts casual drinking as teens. Next parents when you dont allow your kid to sleep out you are making a huge mistake. They will likely drink and drive to try to stay out of trouble with you. Whats worse letting your kid sleep out or letting him drink and drive? Parents if you are extremely strict with your child then you will be making a big mistake in the long run. They will get to college and be exposed to MANY new things that they wont be prepared for if you baby them in high school. Oh by the way dont get me started on the "Party Busters" in Montgomery county another example of restrictions causing more danger (i.e. hiding in woods or you guessed it drinking and driving) than preventing it. The fact that I am going to be a senior in college and "cant" have a beer with a meal is crazy.

Posted by: pcd45 | July 6, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Parents need to be parents, and not friends, to their children. Enough of trying to be the 'cool parent'!

Posted by: Phillyfilly | July 6, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

to quark: "part of the reason underage drinking is not such a big deal in europe is that the late teens & early twenty year olds who are drinking are far less likely to own a car."

True, teens and twenties in Europe are far less likely to own a car. But those teens and twenties have also been legally drinking for quite a while. In fact, as I (and others) posted above, it's legal to drink long before it's legal to drive in most countries in the world. The US is one of the very few places where you can legally drive before you can legally drink.

The main reason underage drinking is not a big deal in Europe is that the legal drinking age is so low that very few people are actually interested in drinking while they're under the legal drinking age. Okay, there are probably a few 13 year olds drinking, but just not that many.

Posted by: Army Brat | July 6, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I think the decision to allow teenagers to drink is a very personal decision. When my kids turn 18, I don't have a problem with them drinking in my house. But I wouldn't allow their friends to drink there. First, there is a huge liability problem. Second, their parents may not want them to drink and I'm don't want to step on the toes of other parents' decisions. And I certainly wouldn't host a huge keg party.

I would rather my kids not drink before they are 18, but I haven't decided yet how I will handle that. I had a couple of beers before I was 18, and decided I wanted to wait until college where I could legally drink at age 18 (New Orleans). And in retrospect, I really think that was the right decision. I knew some kids who started drinking regularly their freshman year of high school. They also moved on to recreational drugs. And all of the kids I knew that drank that early had to go to rehab, did poorly in school, and really got a slow start in life as far as college and career. So I worry about that.

Once they are in college, I also have no problem with them drinking. But they have to understand the consequences, and I hope I can drill that in during their high school and college years. And they have to understand that it is illegal. And while I may disagree with the law, they have to be prepared to accept the consequences.

Posted by: Cliff | July 6, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

These parents deserve jail time. I don't deny that teenagers drink - my friends and I did when we were 16, 17, 18 years old. Our parents didn't condone it, though, and we got in a LOT of trouble if (and when) we were caught.

It's all about accountability - in this case, the parents bought the alcohol for the kids. Bam, illegal, bam, jail. Deal with it.

Posted by: Pete | July 6, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I have very mixed feelings about this topic and what is the "right" way to introduce alcohol to teens. I had my first beer my freshman year of college. I never drank in h.s., except for an occasional glass of champagne with my parents. I didn't want to. My parents did have wine with dinner most nights, but they never got drunk. I did get drunk in college. Now in my 30s, I only have 2 glasses of wine max.

I certainly won't condone underage drinking with my children, mainly b/c the earlier you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become an alcoholic (if you have that genetic predisposition.)

Although I've never had an issue with alcohol, my brother is a different story. He was served a screwdriver at a friend's house in 7th grade, right in the heart of Fairfax. My mother was furious, but the family was moving to Ohio that weekend, so she didn't pursue it. When my brother was in 8th grade he got someone to buy him vodka at 7-11 and was found passed out in someone's yard. He was 13. He ended up getting expelled from high school in 9th grade b/c he showed up drunk after a 2 hr snow delay. He is now in his mid 20s and still struggling with alcohol. He's been sober off and on over the years, but always relapses.

I don't know what the answer is. If kids want to drink, they are going to find a way. Really, you need to make it so that your kid doesn't want to drink. Maybe taking away some of the mystery and instilling high self esteem so that they won't give into peer pressure is a start.

Posted by: E | July 6, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Ah, jail for everyone who's ever made a stupid mistake... sigh. I've read about this Charlottesville case and I'd have to agree that the parents did something very wrong. And illegal. But the judge originally gave them pretty long sentences (8 years!!! I think) and it was later reduced to 2 years- which is still longer than even what the prosecutor recommended (I think he recommended 30 days!)

2 years in jail for this is too long- 30 days would have sufficed as punishment, and to make an example for other parents.

Posted by: randommom | July 6, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I love the people who think that there is some magic age where people suddenly develop responsibility when in reality age limits are just set up for emotional reasons (i.e. its easier to hear about 20 somethings getting killed in car crashes, be they related to alcohol or our area's traffic problems than it is high schoolers). The reality is people are going to make their own decisions and the only way to learn responsibility is by living life and learning from one's mistakes. The job of parents is to be good role models and even to allow their children to make some (though not life threatening nor involving the children of others) mistakes. I agree with dc27yo that those advocates of zero tolerance will likely find themselves dealing with all kinds of issues once their children enter college unprepared for the social environment most will inevitably be drawn into.

Posted by: Some Idiot | July 6, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse


In light of the conversation regarding age limits in Europe, various people here are pointing out that binge drinking is less common because people are allowed to drink at 18 or so, relatively.

And so, people are advocating that 18 be the age here as well. But people are also pointing out that once you get into college - at 18! - kids started binge drinking and partying heavily because they couldn't earlier.

Well, how does that square with the idea that kids at 18 should be allowed to drink?

Since they can get alcohol in college, why are they getting smashed instead of "drinking moderately," which is what people are suggesting would happen with an age change?

And then at what point do we say it isn't okay to drink? One could argue that, by 18, a kid should still have had alcohol on occasion because that way, by the time they're 18, it isn't a big deal.

But isn't that the argument now, for aiming at 21?

It just doesn't seem to me that kids will be any more responsible because the age changed to 18; they'll just have the legal right to be as smashed as at 21.

The real change has to be in the attitude that what kids do at college age is get wasted every weekend, that parents expect that to happen, and that that is okay...

Posted by: Some good points | July 6, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

10:26, thanks for the compliment - I'll chalk it up to good parenting :D

P.S. One question - how'd you know I'm a girl?

Posted by: Arlington22YO | July 6, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The way I see it, there are two debates going on here:
First, should parents give their kids alcohol?
Second, should the drinking age be 21?

There is a huge difference between drinking in high school in suburbia and drinking in college. In high school everyone has to drive home, whereas in college you walk. I think it is absurd to be 20 and 9 months and not be able to have a beer with your friend who is 3 months older. I agree with all those who said the drinking age should be 18. Also, it is unrealistic to think that college kids won't drink, but parents can enforce that high school people won't. Not only is it more dangerous in high school because of the driving factor, but when you are younger it is more unhealthy and you aren't mature enough to make responsible decisions. I just turned 21, but my parents attitude all along was: the drinking age was 18 when we grew up, so once I turned 18, "don't drink and drive, we'll come pick you up if you need us to." They kept a close watch on where I was and I couldn't just call and sleep over at someone's house, but they knew when I'm was school and went out with friends I drank.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm 13 years old and me and my friends drink almost everyday after school. The highschool seniors are always in the parking lot drinking wine coolers and beer. I like drinking with them they are so much fun! Then we get drunk and drive to the mall.

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic but same vein of conversation -- what do you say when your kids ask if you drank underage (especially if the answer is different than what you are advocating)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

It's been noted on here a couple of times that underage drinking is illegal. That's not true in Maryland. If it's part of a religious ceremony, kids can drink. My kids take communion. Also, parents are permitted to provide alcohol to their family members under the age of 21 at their residence. And the law only prohibits possession of alcohol by minors. There is no law against consumption of alcohol by teenagers.

Posted by: Cliff | July 6, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh and by the way (I wrote the last comment), for those of you that think that anyone who drinks under 21 will drop out of school and be unemployed, I go to an ivy league school and work at a top investment bank.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

To the person who mentioned the accident rates being higher when drinking age was 18 instead of 21, people back then didn't wear seatbelts and cars didn't have air bags either, so that is a contributing factor as well.

As I see it (and I am a father of a young child myself), you are either an adult at 18 or not. It does not seem right that the feds decide on this one issue, you are an adult at 21. Why not raise the drinking age to 30? There are and will always be irresponsible people at every age. We can't save ourselves from everyone.

Posted by: tg | July 6, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Yeah right... You don't go to an ivy league school or work at any investment bank. You're an alcoholic, face it. On this anonymous blog, we're all ivy-leaguers and investment bankers. Except for me, I'm a famous actor.

Posted by: R. Gere | July 6, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

To the ivy league investment banker... Get back to work!

I wouldn't trust you with my money when all you do is surf the internet and chat on blogs all day.

So I can safely bet you are not what you say.

Posted by: duh | July 6, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The concern that resulted in the drinking age change was not back roads, but interstate highways. The drinking age went to 21 b/c there was a concern of people going over the border to get alcohol in a state where the age was 18. I agree with having a consistent drinking age, I just think it should be 18, not 21. And yes, no doubt drinking and driving deaths have gone down since the change in the law, and also the advent of air bags, and increase in seat belt usage which have occurred since 1984. And no doubt drinking related deaths would go down if we raised the drinking age to 25, or 32, or 45, or 95.

Posted by: Cliff | July 6, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Both my husband and I grew up around social drinking -- and we each have a memorable experience where we were irresponsible. With our daughter, she sees us drink wine with dinner and cocktails (occassionally). We plan to let her have watered down wine when she's older and explain to her the dangers (loss of inhibitions, motor control)in overindulgence. We plan to educate, communicate, and set expectations...and reinforce with discipline as necessary. And I believe it will be necessary; it's the degree to which that will tell us how well the message is being received. The one firm rule: If she finds herself in a situation where there are no safe rides home, she can call home and get a ride...no questions asked, no consequences (other than discussion the next day). I want her in a car because she did not want to call us and "deal with us."

Posted by: Mom 2 a Hobbit | July 6, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Last line previous post should say "I never want her in a car because she didn't want to 'deal with us.'"

Posted by: Mom 2 a Hobbit | July 6, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Last line previous post should say "I never want her in a car because she didn't want to 'deal with us.'"

Posted by: Mom 2 a Hobbit | July 6, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

ok, ok we get what the last line should say.

Posted by: ok | July 6, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

when your children ask you about your behavior when you were young you tell them the truth in an age appropriate way. because alcohalism runs in my family (both sides) and my husband's family (mother's side) you better believe that my child will hear the drink responsibly message. however, my son is such a fussy eater that i can't picture him getting past the nasty taste the first time he tries it.

Posted by: quark | July 6, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Heck, yeah, get smashed and drive around until you kill yourselves. I'm all for that. But think about the other innocent drivers and passengers you might collide with. It might be OK for you to kill yourselves but it negligent homicide when you kill someone else who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We love those heartwrenching stories of a carload of drunk teens getting killed. How would you like to be the parent of a drunk teen who killed someone else? Oh, the glory of it all! I bet you'd save all the newspaper stories.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Mom 2 a Hobbit-

At what age do you think it is appropriate to smoke Pipe Weed?

Posted by: Gandalf | July 6, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

A couple of thoughts...

1) Collecting car keys is a joke...most kids are on to this and simply bring an extra set of keys. Plus, how many people REALLY have place for 100 teenagers to sleep over? I don't know of many houses in the area with 5-6 guest bathrooms.

2) Reducing the drinking age to 18 does not do anything about the 15-17 year olds who drink, often at parties with older friends.

3) While I am not a big fan of smoking either, alcohol is a strong neurotoxin and sustained exposure to "safe" levels will eventually cause problems. Hopefully, most people under 21 are still developing mentally and physically, so why would you want to encourage consumption of a product that is harmful.

4) The problem is not so much teen drinking as it is EXCESSIVE teen drinking. When I choose to let my 19 year old daughter have a glass or wine or a beer it is just that, not a six-pack or the entire bottle of wine. This would not be an issue if these parties were social events where alcohol was available, but not the primary focus. The pictures on Facebook that get the most attention are the ones which demonstrate the greatest level of intoxication.

5) Parents need to either accept the fact that the law is 21 or actively work to have it changed. Deciding to purchase alcohol and sponsor parties is no different than saying that I don't agree with the speed limit which is why I choose to drive as fast as I want.

Posted by: Lester Burnham | July 6, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

While I understand why people would claim I don't actually work at a bulge bracket bank and shouldn't be surfing the web, I'd like to point out that they clearly don't know anything about what it means to be a banking analyst (the job for people right out of college). You sit around surfing the web until the markets close, then get staffed on something, work until midnight and then, depending on the day of the week, sleep or go out and drink.

Posted by: banker | July 6, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

When me and my friends get drunk in the parking lot at my highschool, sometimes they let me drive to the mall eventhough I am only 13. They say it is because they are too drunk to drive themselves. They say I am a good driver even when I am drunk. I drive slow and make sure to stay in the yellow lines.

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Then we have restaurants that serve 'Shirley Temples' to little kids, making them look like they're all grown up and drinking a cocktail like mommy and daddy. Yippie, nothing like letting them imitate drunks at an early age.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I began drinking when I was 15 and I can't think of anything that would have stopped me. It's a sad thing when getting drunk is the only joy in one's life. Parents should be thinking about that long before the kid turns 15.

Posted by: questionauthority | July 6, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

See "ivy league investment banker", you're an alcoholic. You said "sleep or go out and drink"

You are at best, a bank teller.

Posted by: Yeah right | July 6, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

JaHerer22, you're saying the 21 yo drinking age MADE you drink and drive? How about not drinking until you were old enough? BTW, since the drinking laws changed during the late 1970's-early 1980's, alcohol related fatalities have decrease from 26,173 in 1982 to 16,885 in 2005.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

We love those heartwrenching stories of a carload of drunk teens getting killed. How would you like to be the parent of a drunk teen who killed someone else? Oh, the glory of it all! I bet you'd save all the newspaper stories.
--------------------------------------

I'm not sure if all that was directed at me, but I don't think you read my post. I was simply saying that no one learns how to do anything especially something like drink responsibly without messing up or doing foolish things along the way. My point was that the age limit is somewhat arbitrary in that a car load of 21 year olds can do as much damage driving drunk as a car load of 16 year olds. Experience is the only real teacher and that involves setting a good example and maybe even letting your kid have a few too many in your presence at some point so that they can see the effects of alcohol on health and judgement.

Posted by: Some Idiot | July 6, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

A few posters, including Cliff wrote:

Also, parents are permitted to provide alcohol to their family members under the age of 21 at their residence. And the law only prohibits possession of alcohol by minors. There is no law against consumption of alcohol by teenagers.

Where is that written?? I cannot find evidence of that anywhere online. I have also never heard that stated before.

And I have lived in MD since I was a teenager, for over 20 years. You'd think I would have heard that and played up to it when I was a kid!

However, I think equating minor's taking communion in church to drinking a beer at dinner is a stretch, but I don't want to get into a "the law is the law" arguement about it.

Posted by: Really? | July 6, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Arlington22YO, probably because I'm female and you sound and write a lot like me. I have a 14 and 11 year old and it also seems that I parent a lot like your parents did.

I don't subscribe to the "they'll do it anyway camp." While it may be true sometimes, it shouldn't be the convenient excuse that parents make so they don't have to do their jobs.

Posted by: 10:26 | July 6, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Story in today's news:

July 6, 2007 - 10:50am

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) - Police who chased a car for miles along a highway at speeds up to 100 mph said the driver was drunk, hardly a rarity in this resort town. But there was more: When they looked inside the flipped vehicle with guns drawn, they found an 11-year-old girl at the wheel.

"You go up there thinking it's a felon you're dealing with," assistant police Chief Greg Duck said.

The girl, who was slightly injured in the crash, is now charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident. Duck said she sideswiped another vehicle during the roughly 8-mile chase.

The chase began around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when a patrol officer near the Florida line saw the car speeding west along a beach highway, Duck said. When the officer flicked on his lights, the driver sped up. The girl rolled the car just inside the Gulf Shores city limit.

Duck said the girl, whose name was not released because of her age, told police she was on her way to pick up her sister at a concert.

Investigators found no alcohol in the car but believe the girl drank before getting behind the wheel of the car, which belongs to relatives.

Duck declined to release the girl's blood alcohol level but said a blood test at the hospital showed it was higher than .02, the legal limit for minors.


(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) - Police who chased a car for miles along a highway at speeds up to 100 mph said the driver was drunk, hardly a rarity in this resort town. But there was more: When they looked inside the flipped vehicle with guns drawn, they found an 11-year-old girl at the wheel.

"You go up there thinking it's a felon you're dealing with," assistant police Chief Greg Duck said.

The girl, who was slightly injured in the crash, is now charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident. Duck said she sideswiped another vehicle during the roughly 8-mile chase.

Posted by: Starlight | July 6, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

From today's "Ask Amy" column -- I agree with Amy's reply:

Dear Amy:

I'm responding to letters in your column discussing underage drinking. I'm one of those parents who have "served alcohol to minors in their home."

I do not think this is a sign of "negligence." I know it is illegal to do so. I also know that kids will go to places to get alcohol, despite the law or what their parents want.

I let my very responsible son and a dozen of his friends run the party. There were no fights or sex allowed. Teasing to encourage excess drinking was not allowed.

My son and his friends kept the party a friendly, safe and enjoyable space.

No one was allowed to drive away drunk. Either a designated driver took them home, parents or older siblings were called to pick them up, or I took kids back to their own homes. If kids were not able to get home, they could stay the night -- again supervised. We never hid this from parents.

I clearly explained what was going to be allowed to parents who spoke to me about the party beforehand. If they did not want to allow their children to drink, they could either trust that their child would attend and not drink, or forbid that child to come.

If that child came anyway, then that child would probably have disobeyed the parents by going to another party -- less well supervised.

My son has attended other parties where there was alcohol, and they were unsupervised. At some parties, there were fights, thefts and even guns.

I believe I did the right thing, even if it was the illegal thing, in allowing for a safe environment for kids to do their drinking in.

Not So Appalled Parent

I can tell that you believe you've really cracked the code to good parenting. I beg to differ.

Your attitude reflects the twisted thinking that creates young people who believe that rules, laws, etc., don't necessarily apply to them.

You are teaching your son and his friends that it is okay to ignore the law, as long as you say so.

You seem more willing to be a bouncer than a parent.

If my child went to your son's party and was served alcohol provided by you in your home, I would call the police and hope that would do what you seem unable to do --say no to your kids.

Posted by: 123 | July 6, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

To Really?? -

Here are the MD statutes:

The law bans possession:

"An individual under the age of 21 years may not possess or have under the individual's charge or control an alcoholic beverage unless the individual is a bona fide employee of the license holder as defined in Article 2B, § 1-102 of the Code and the alcoholic beverage is in the possession or under the charge or control of the individual in the course of the individual's employment and during regular working hours."

MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-114

The code also prohibits adults from furnishing alcohol to minors, except:

"(c)(1) The prohibition set forth in subsection (a) of this section does not apply if the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage and the individual to whom the alcoholic beverage is furnished:


(i) are members of the same immediate family, and the alcoholic beverage is furnished and consumed in a private residence or within the curtilage of the residence; or

(ii) are participants in a religious ceremony.

(2) The prohibition set forth in subsection (b) of this section does not apply if the adult allowing the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage and the individual under the age of 21 years who possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage:

(i) are members of the same immediate family, and the alcoholic beverage is possessed and consumed in a private residence, or within the curtilage of the residence, of the adult; or

(ii) are participants in a religious ceremony."

MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-117

Posted by: Cliff | July 6, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

OK, more searching came up with Maryland Senate Bill 905, from 2005. Here is an exerpt:

"The prohibitions stated above do not apply if the adult and the person under age 21 are members of the same immediate family and the alcoholic beverage is furnished,
possessed, and consumed in a private residence or within the land enclosing the private residence. The prohibition also does not apply if the adult and the person under age 21 are participants in a religious ceremony."

Posted by: Really? | July 6, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Cliff.

Posted by: Really? | July 6, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

It is unbelievably lame to accuse the banker who attends an Ivy League university of lying. Someone who is mature enough to attend one of the top universities in the world and work for a prestigious bank can obviously handle going out for drinks after work with friends. That's not alcoholism. It's obvious that you are all jealous.

P.S. Wendy... that's messed up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Ivy League Banker Dude" you are too funny! I can tell you were writing in as though you are someone else.

If your most recent post was really from someone other than you, that person would NOT know that you went to "one of the top universities in the world" nor would they know you work for "a prestigious bank" Also, they would have no knowledge of your "maturity" level. Hillarious!

Posted by: Not too slick | July 6, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

just a gut feeling, but uh, shouldn't we follow the law? just because kids drink before the legal age (i'm in college; i'm muslim and don't drink at all, but i'm not naive either) doesn't *make* it legal. if parents are concerned about their kids drinking, they should talk to them. not host parties on their behalf.

Posted by: yasmin | July 6, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

But I like drinking and driving with my friends, it's fun. Why is it so messed up? I can drive really well when I have had at least 5 wine coolers. Six of them make me see double though, so I don't drive then. At 13, I can drive better than most adults.

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey "Not Too Slick"... That's not how you spell 'hilarious.' Honestly, wow...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Be real with your kids and teach good judgement from the get go and this should be less of a problem, regardless of what the law says. Case in point:

I had a couple good friends in high school whose parents were the "absolutely no, never, no way, won't talk about it" type when it came to alcohol (and were fairly strict overall). Guess what happened when these kids went off to college? SERIOUS binge drinking issues, no judgement. Alcohol as the forbidden fruit, and not appreciated as a powerful substance that is OK in moderation but not OK in excess.

I, on the other hand, was raised in a family in which alcohol was often drunk at meals as part of our cultural tradition. Wine was something to be enjoyed in moderation with a good meal. A beer you might have at a backyard barbecue with friends. My folks thought nothing of serving a glass of wine to me at age 16 or so. But they TALKED WITH ME about MODERATION in all things and set that example. When I got to college, I was totally underwhelmed by the binge drinking atmosphere. I knew my limits, understood the perils, and I didn't see alcohol as some kind of chemical joyride like so many kids.

Posted by: Anonymous DC | July 6, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey " " the name is "Not too slick"

(lowercase "t" and lowercase "s")

... dumbass.

Posted by: omg | July 6, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

(Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Posted by: Starlight | July 6, 2007 11:50 AM

Starlight, guess what "this material may not be published or redistributed" means? I'll give you a clue: you are on notice that the information is copyrighted and you are not permitted to block and copy it onto a blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

PS:

It's a travesty that we have 18 and 19 year olds trying to bomb their brains out on alcopops, but these same kids wouldn't know what to do with a glass of fine wine served with a gourmet meal. They would probably chug it. Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous DC | July 6, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug! chug!

Posted by: chug! | July 6, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

To 123: What's more appalling is that the 'Not So Appalled Parent' told other parents he/she was going to serve alcohol to underage kids and those parents let their kids go to the party anyway. Jeez, how stupid is that? Isn't it illegal to serve alcohol to other peoples' underage kids, too? My parents would have beaten the living crap out of me if they knew I had been 1) drinking, 2) smoking, 3) having sex at a party or at home.

Sure, the law applies to everybody but me. Great way to think and teach your kids. No wonder this country is going into the toilet.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I just assumed everyone would ignore your posts, but since someone did respond, I would just like to say it's kind of annoying that you would post pretend-accounts of being a 13yo girl who gets smashed. Besides the lousy writing, even if I could get past that I'm supposed to believe a 13yo is reading this chat in the middle of a Friday like the rest of us work-saps?

Shut up already...

Posted by: Liar Liar, Wendy | July 6, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Ding ding ding!!! Gold star for you!

Now back to work, boys and girls.

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

My father was a heavy drinker and often acted like a complete moron when he got drunk. This is how I learned to stay away from alcohol. I am 24 years old and have never even tasted beer.

Posted by: FF | July 6, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm still working out how to deal with my kids.

My parents were the a-small-serving-of-alcohol-with-meals types. I had my first alcohol at 13 and it was fine for me. But my sister, 18 months younger, was sneaking into their liquor cabinet and getting 'stoopid' by the time she was 15. I threatened to let our parents know what was going on and she cleaned up her act, or at least figured out how to hide it from me too. I suspect the latter.

Same parents, same rules, but different kids and different results.

Posted by: Sue | July 6, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I think that how you deal with alcohol and your kids should depend, as with all parenting, on each individual child and his/her own behavior up to that point.

That said, I think that many of the parents on here are going too far in either direction. First, those parents who advocate hosting parties with alcohol served to their underage kids and friends are just wrong. I don't think they should be punished like those parents in VA, but what they are doing for high school kids is wrong.

On the other hand, those people on here who are equating drinking before 21 with committing other crimes are just as absurd. The 21 line is just that -- an arbitrary line. It is not a natural law (as murder is). It is just a human law that clearly can be quite different with little consequence.

I think parents would be best served by setting examples for responsible alcohol use, not permitting their high school kids to drink (perhaps this could be different for college kids), and allow them to attend high school parties where they may be alcohol. Then, as long as your kid is being responsible, don't ask too many questions. Really, if you're kid is 17, you can't have much influence on their values at that point. If you wanted to influence their values about alcohol, you should have done that MUCH earlier.

Oh, one other thing: Stop equating alcohol with other drugs, particularly illegal ones. They're very different and it only makes me question your other arguments when you display such ignorance.

Posted by: Ryan | July 6, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-114 says that adults can serve alcohol to minors if they "are participants in a religious ceremony."

Well, that settles it -- parents should just say "Drinking is my religion, officer, and these are my disciples."

Seriously though, the extremism mass-generalizations some posters have inflicted upon us are pretty awful. For instance, the black parent who "knows" no black or Asian parents would let children drink in their homes (thanks for speaking on behalf of millions of people, I'm sure they all appreciate it). Or the person who never drank proudly trumpeting that she graduated from high school while her drinking friend did not. Whoop-de-doo.

That second one really tickles me. First, class act you are to bring that up, I'm sure your former friend appreciates it. And two, I drank heavily as an undergrad, yet *somehow* managed to graduate (and get a graduate degree as well). Uncontrolled drinking is obviously dangerous and detrimental, but don't get all "Just Say No" on us and assume that drinking inevitably leads to a miserable and pointless life.

The drinking age of 21 is a joke as several posters have opined ("Yeah, go shoot that foreigner & drive & vote, but put down that evil beer!"). But even if it dropped to 18, there'd still be underage drinking to address in high school.

There aren't any easy solutions to how a parent addresses the problem . . . both extremes are, as with most things, ridiculous oversimplifications. Insisting on NO DRINKING EVER is just as dumb as throwing keggers for 16-year-olds.

How about a compromise of: Parents who wish to host a house party & serve alcohol to minors must inform the parents of anyone who's invited, and those parents must approve their child's presence? Of course that would only work if the guest list were inviolable, which would require a LOT of work by the hosts (and would likely require a bouncer or two).

Like I said, no easy solutions. But extremism on either side clearly isn't the answer -- rational compromise, as usual, is the most logical approach.

Posted by: Take a deep breath | July 6, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in a South Asian family. My parents and their friends throw fabulous (and boozy) parties. I started drinking champagne at weddings and New Years when I was about 12 or 13 (I got to share a glass with my parents). New jobs were celebrated with champagne so I had it a couple more times when I was in high school. Most of my parents' friends' children were allowed to drink about as much as I was - at home, with their parents, or at parties thrown by one of my parents' friends. My dad's drinking advice, when I went off to college, was "don't mix" and "don't take Tylenol for a hangover." I drank, occasionally to excess, in college, but turned out just fine. I'm no i-banker but I managed to get an education, a well-paying job, and still enjoy a glass of wine or two. I went out earlier this year with a bunch of girlfriends and had way too much to drink. I got home around 3 a.m. (via a designated driver - god love the pregnant ladies!). Alas, my kid still expected to start her day at 6:30, which means that I learned another very valuable lesson: what 25-year-olds can handle is far different from what 35-year-olds can handle!

Posted by: Oh, Will | July 6, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

First of all some facts

1/3 of young adults don't drink until 21

1/3 drink responsibly

1/3 binge drink and are out of control

So what group will your child fall into?

Parents your MOST IMPORTANT job is to RAISE YOUR KIDS

Posted by: Parents are still the biggest influence | July 6, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

When I was in high school my parents let me have parties with close friends (no more than 15) and provided the beer after they found out that we were drinking on the weekends b/c they didn't want anyone to drive drunk. I then went to college and drank all 4 years while getting my bachelors degree. While in college I met people who drank in high school like myself and have gone off to be successful. I met the people who drank in high school and flunked out of college. I met the people who had never been allowed anywhere near alcohol in high school and went wild once they got in college and flunked out. I met the people who never drank in high school and also never drank in college. I met the people who never drank in high school and then started in college and did just fine.

My point is that you can pull the positive examples and negative examples in every situation but it is up to the individual to decide which path they will follow.

Posted by: Individuals choice | July 6, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Will, this is offensive.... and what's the deal with Wendy?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the whole concept of having a "legal age" to drink alcohol is completely off base to begin with. But certainly 21 is just darn ridiculous.

Why is it that we have such double standards for the hard things to discuss? We're supposed to be growing people into fully functioning stable adults. How is simply saying "Abstain abstain abstain" going to help them cope and make responsible choices?

I believe, as everything, children should be educated and informed as they grow up. I think early teens is a fine time for them to be able to begin having some alcohol at meals with the family- learning their tastes, cultivating discussions of what the effects of alcohol are, reminiscing, discussions of prohibition and how in many times alcohol was safer to drink than water and everyone had it all the time. It's great.

Take away the mystery, take away the "fun factor" and make it just another ordinary part of life, something to take or leave and choose appropriately for yourself.

Like sex, some will choose to abstain, and that's great. Some will choose not to abstain- of course everyone must be educated on the risks and precautions they need to take.

But this constant chant of "abstain!" isn't going to work, only leads to hiding and binging and completely unhealthy behaviors when they "legally" can drink.

Posted by: Liz D | July 6, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wendy, See how fast you can drive in that car and cut off as many other drivers as you can.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

2:30, Google is a fabulous thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"My point is that you can pull the positive examples and negative examples in every situation but it is up to the individual to decide which path they will follow."

So are you saying that parental influence means nothing? Sure, you can always find exceptions (your examples), but speaking in general terms, most people will become what they become because of their parents' influence.

Posted by: 10:26 | July 6, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Ok folks, off to the mall! Taking my Mom's car... shhh.. hehehe. ANyway I only had 4 wine coolers adn a shotie o f bgllcgh jmg mngfjndbs yr yu fusyd hjg d

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

So are you saying that parental influence means nothing? Sure, you can always find exceptions (your examples), but speaking in general terms, most people will become what they become because of their parents' influence.

Posted by: 10:26 | July 6, 2007 02:33 PM

You must not be a parent.

Scientists continue to examine the impact of nature vs. nurture. You can announce that The Right Answer is nurture, but reality is much more nuanced than you, apparantly, are prepared to believe.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi, it's Wendy's friend Melissa. Wendy says "Sorry about that last part, I'm kinda buzzin hard right now" I'm thinking I should drive for her. I know she's only 13 but I'm 14, so I should be able to drive better than her. I only drank 2 shots and 3 wine coolers. I'll be fine! bye!

Posted by: Melissa | July 6, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Melissa, as long as you are buckled up and driving your dad's car with side airbags and a full tank of gas, we won't worry.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Finally, I think Governor Kaine shoudl commute the sentence (if not pardon) the Charlottesville parents who are imprisoned to make an example. An example of what? There should be an public uproar about this unjust sentence.

They got what they deserved. They are LUCKY no one was killed. Hopefully the next "cool" parents will think twice before they break the law and endanger the public.

Posted by: don't drink and drive | July 6, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Liz D: "But this constant chant of "abstain!" isn't going to work, only leads to hiding and binging and completely unhealthy behaviors when they "legally" can drink."

We tell our kids to NOT do a lot of things in life. I didn't know that when you tell your kids not to do something, they'll do it to excess once they leave the house. You're right, though, my mom always told me to NEVER put my elbows on the table. I do it at every meal now just out of spite. Thanks for the enlightenment, not.

Again, "they'll do it anyway" is a parental cop out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

From Take a Deep Breath: "First, class act you are to bring that up, I'm sure your former friend appreciates it. And two, I drank heavily as an undergrad, yet *somehow* managed to graduate (and get a graduate degree as well)."

That was me, and you know what I appreciate? That I had parents who cared vs. hers. I would love to know what my best friend from childhood thinks, but I haven't seen her in years. Was it my choice? No. I kept in touch with her, but after she was kicked out of her parents house around age 17 (for not getting along!), and went to live with a grandmother, it was _kinda_ hard to keep in touch.

And when I got married and invited her and her family, they said yes, and didn't show.

These are people I grew up with and loved, and I think it's really CRAPPY that her parents, out of their own weak wills, let her fall down.

So you got wasted alot and still graduated, goodie for you! By the state of political affairs these days it's apparent you don't need to learn anything in order to get a degree.

That you would take my account as "proudly trumpeting" shows insight into how you would view the same life experience, and I'm so glad you were tickled by what I consider a horrible shame.

Who's pompous again?

Posted by: YOU take a deep breath | July 6, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Which minority has the market cornered on out of wedlock births, prison population, drug arrests, drug convictions, drug overdose deaths, armed robbery and assault charges?"

Duh, White's of course... idiot.

Posted by: Whitey | July 6, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Only in America can people figure out how to turn everything into a Race argument. Get over yourselves, do you want to set this kind of example for your children?

Posted by: You've got to be kidding | July 6, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the repetitive posts -- the server must have been on a bender.
Gandalf: Never (never indulged and plan to push hard that she doesn't either)

Posted by: Mom 2 a Hobbit | July 6, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

OK I think this is getting a little ridiculous, if you are a racist then you shouldn't be giving advice on raising children because you obviously are an idiot.

Posted by: Post Admin | July 6, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Agreed! Back to the original discussion...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely right! Please folks, no need to be racist on this chat. We are civilized adults here.

Posted by: Mighty Whitey | July 6, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey, but wait -- We have Bill Clinton, all those Kennedys, Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears! D*** if I ain't proud!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

we are all civilized adults? What about WENDY?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Wendy is a disgrace! Melissa, if you were a good friend, you would be looking out for her.

Posted by: Jane | July 6, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, I think Wendy's drunk 13 year old self is having a good ol' time shopping with her drunk friend. Hope they made it to the mall ok. I can't believe it seems like they routinely drive drunk. Tweens, jeesh.

Posted by: Mighty Whitey | July 6, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Melissa!

Posted by: Priscilla | July 6, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What do y'all think is an appropriate age to begin drinking?

Posted by: Evelyn | July 6, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Melissa n Wendy r w/ qtpies at montgomery mall. siiiick.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

they r def @ friendship heights he he he ;-D I

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

they r def @ friendship heights he he he ;-D I

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

they r def @ friendship heights he he he ;-D I

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I think the appropriate age to begin drinking is suprisingly, quite young.

I'd say a nursing baby should have a some sort of rum or whisky mixed in with it's baby formula/milk. Jack Danielle's is pretty good.

It will benefit the baby 3 ways:
1. Keep it quiet at night or in the movie theater.
2. Keep it's tolerance level high so when it grows up it will be able to out drink all of his frat brothers and friends.
3. All of his weak brain cells will be killed by the alcohol, leaving only the strongest brain cells to carry him through the rest of his life. He will be brilliant in highschool and college, proberably graduate college at 16!

Posted by: Wilmer | July 6, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I also think that as the baby ages, his dose of rum/whisky should be increaded accordingly.

Like this:
Age 1 = 1 shot per day
Age 2 = 2 shots per day
Age 3 to 5 = 3 shots per day
Age 6 to 10 = 4 shots per day
Age 11 to 18 = 6 shots per day
Age 19 = 21 intake is up to him at this point.

Posted by: Wilmer | July 6, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

kids should be able to begin drinking at 16. they need to learn themselves

Posted by: R.W. Beck | July 6, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

kids should be able to begin drinking at 16. they need to learn themselves

Posted by: beck | July 6, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

2:43
"Again, "they'll do it anyway" is a parental cop out."
***

I agree, and that wasn't my message at all. My message was "Responsible adults make good choices for themselves. This includes drinking alcohol. Simply ordering them not to drink alcohol does not give them what they need in order to make the best choices for themselves. I need to make sure I use my time when my children are close to me as much as possible to educate and experience so that they can make the best choices for themselves as responsible adults in ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE."

Why is it that so many parents think they need to spend time teaching their kids about SOME parts of life but can just lock up the other ones and think it's a great way to grow an adult?

Posted by: Liz D | July 6, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I must admit I'm surprised by all the people who didn't drink until they were 21. I personally started drinking with friends when I was about 15 -- and I can definitely tell you that I wasn't alone. Nor was I a "bad" kid. I was on the honor roll, got good grades, got into a good college, and am still alive to this day -- with a good job, husband, and child on the way. Do I hope my child follows in my footsteps and starts drinking at the age of 15? No. But I certainly don't think that if they do, they're on the path to becoming an alcoholic drop out.

Posted by: jerseyg | July 6, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

This is so sad everyone flaming and arguing. It breaks my heart. Children are love.

My wife and I have found a way to show the positive side of alcohol and drinking. The twins are both 12 and we thought it would be perfect to set up a bar in the living room. With some trail mix, cocktail napkins, and mixers. Each daughter gets to be the bartender while the other dresses as a cocktail hostess. We have taught them that serving alcohol is more fun and PROFITABLE then drinking it.

When we have friends over they each get to mix and serve drinks and guess what they get tips. My wife and I both feel they are learning the true value of alcohol. The cocktail waitress outfit is funny with the shorts like hooters... what a riot. But guess what each one can now afford an iPhone

Posted by: NYC | July 6, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Wendy and Melissa would you like to come to our house and let my daughters serve you drinks... you have to tip

Posted by: NYC | July 6, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah right, NYC. You're telling me that you taught your twin 12 year old daughters how to mix alcoholic drinks? And you think this is going to keep them from drinking/abusing those drinks later in life?

And also you expect me to belive that they made $500 from tips at your party? You must be some kind of rich guy with rich friends. I mean, that's good for you and your daughters and all, but c'mon no one I know has parties where the kids serve the alcohol and can make $500! Rediculous.

Although, I can't wait to walk into Hooters one day and see the twins, I bet they'll be hot! Just 6 more years to go! If they are hot, which I'm sure they will be, they still won't be making $500 per shift.

Posted by: Bob | July 6, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I can't believe you all are still here! I got the cutest high heels and mini skirts from Forever21.

I threw up in the mall though. I think I was drunker than I thought. Melissa drove awsome tho!

Well, we're going to make some more drinks before our parents get home from work. Damm, I forgot to get cigarrettes! Oh well.

Oh and NYC, you sound like an awsome Dad! we would love to come to your house and have some drinks with you and your daughters.

NOT!!! You sound creepy. How can you try and pick up two 13 and 14 year old girls on the Washington post blog? And to with your own daughters too!. jeeez. Sicko. ewwwwww...

Posted by: Wendy | July 6, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Bob, okay so my wife and I stuff the tip cup sometimes. Shame on us. But Ashley can make one mean Negroni. And also they have been doing this for over a year. The tips add up.

It is not about tips as much as teaching children right: make money off of addicts and drunks. From wrong: addicts and drunks should be used... This is America friend and the American way

Posted by: NYC | July 6, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

To:
July 6, 2007 04:56 PM

Damn Nice!

You're right, they'll probably be on the streets by 14 serving... uh... well... drinks... yeah, Dad... they just be serving drinks on the corner. We may even get lucky and see them in an adult film at 14.

Don't worry Dad, they'll say they're 18.

Posted by: Mike | July 6, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Europe does not have the binge drinking or underage drinking problem we do? Are you kidding? Have you been to bars in England? Or a soccer game? Type "UK alcoholism rates" into your search engine and read all about how "After smoking, alcoholism kills more people in the UK than any other drug. One adult in 13 is dependant on drink, according to Government statistics.

Alcohol is involved in 15% of road accidents, 26% of drownings, and 36% of death in fires.

A quarter of accidents at work are drink-related. "

Under-16s who do drink are drinking twice as much today as they did 10 years ago, although overall numbers have changed little.

Sounds like a great model for us to follow.

Posted by: RG | July 6, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

It's entirely possible for parents to (a) forbid their kids to drink alcohol underage, while (b) suspecting that they will do it behind closed doors anyway. Parenting is full of gray areas like that, where you know your teenager is pushing the limits a bit, but you look the other way. My parents would not let me drink underage. But of course they knew that I started to experiment with breaking that rule (and many of their other rules) as I got older (junior/senior in high school). Most of my friends lived under similar circumstances, and we experimented variously with alcohol, tobacco, sex, pot, etc. I thought evading your parents to break a few rules was a normal part of adolescence(?)

That said, it's a huge mistake to take this too far, and let your kids party at home. Parents: embrace hypocrisy! Embrace the gray area! Honestly, like 100% of the kids I grew up with whose parents let them have bashes ended up with alcohol problems (and half the time are daily pot smokers at age 30+). Please, don't turn your kid into a townie with 3 DUIs.

Posted by: anon | July 7, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

All or shall I say most teenagers are going to drank at one point and time. I feel that if my teen is going to do it then I would rather see them at home doing it then out somewhere else. At the age of 18 you can vote, you can go to war and die for this country. But if you want to have a cold beer the law says that you can not. HELLO it is time that we wake up. Were I live we have what you call Party Crashers, were you can call into and let people know where they are having an underage dranking party and you collect 100.00. Now by no means do I think someone should have a 25 plus underage dranking party that is to many to have at one time. But I do allow my teen son that is 17 have 3-4 of his frinds over with their parents approval. They set and play card, pitch horseshoes, and play playstation. I take the keys, and when I go to bed they go to. NO girls are allowed over. If my son is going to do it. No matter where he is at he is going to. I do not want him out in a car, or somewhere to where he could hurt himself or someone else.
Now by law is it right. NO but for the ones to put it up there with murder or robbies. Come on! that is alittle far out there in left field.
I think that all these laws is what has caused a rise in alot of the problems in this world. I know where I come from that there is a mother that just this year had an underage dranking party at her daughers graduation. And she got reported. And is facing 13 felonies on her. Now at the same time a man that was charged with messing with younger girls is facing less charges then this woman is. Now tell me what is wrong with this picture?
This underage dranking has went to far. When I was 18 you were allowed to drank, and there was less problems back then to. And as far as one of the post that i read that if you start dranking at a young age. then you are more then likly to do drugs like Pot, Meth, crack. I disagree with that to a point. In certain situations. Now if a child at 13-16 ya I can see where that would be a problem. But who in there right mind would allow a child at that age to drank?
I would never let my teenages at 13,14,15,16 drank. That is why to young. But at the age of 17 yes. And me and my son have a very close relationship. He enjoys being home. He does not get into no trouble. Does not do NO drugs. Except for dranking. IF that is what people want to call it a drug.
I do not believe there is a right or wrong answer to this question about minors dranking. You do what you feel is right with your kids. And others do what they feel is right. we all have broke the law before speeding, running red lights. roadrage, etc. No one is perfect. And the laws in this country are ass backwards anyways. Just play it smart, be safe about, be responsible.
If you have minors or adults at your home take there keys. DO not let them leave. Be sure to know that the parents who teenagers are at your home know what is going on. And ever mix dranking and boys and girls together. That is a mixture for problems. Keep a limit to what you let them drank. It's not that i want to be a cool parent. I just want my son around not in a body bag. Or have to worry about him putting someone else family member in one. There has never been a time that anyone has walked away form my place after dranking minor or adult.

Posted by: denise | July 10, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Teaching your children to pick and choose whaich law or laws they will pay attention to is just plain wrong, whether it is underage drinking, running a red light, or habitually speeding.

Posted by: Steve, Boston | July 16, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

For my children, I never ordered anything that I couldn't enforce: I advised them that they were breaking the law if they consumed alcohol when they were away from our home and that they shouldn't look to me to save them from the consequences if they were caught; that they would not be permitted to drink in our home or on my property; that the effects of drinking were dangerous in multiple ways.

One evening my son came home drunk. I introduced him to some one-year old cigars (from a friend who's wife had had a baby), made him finish it and then made him lie down. When he got sick, I stayed up with him most of the night and prevented him from sleeping to the side of the "porcalin bus" (sp?!!).

Now in his 30's, he has never since consumed alcohol in excess.

While adults who provide alcohol to minors should perhaps serve jail sentences, the emphasis should be on our children being accountable for their actions...Freedom of Choice is NOT Freedom from Consequences.

Posted by: Viking | July 16, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Every once in a while, I slip my 7 year old some Jack Daniels into his soda can just to see his facial expressions! But most of the time, suprisingly, he drinks the whole thing--I think he likes the buzz! If he keeps this up, he'll be drinking the Jack straight from the bottle.

Posted by: Dad | July 16, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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