Most of us can remember going to parties in high school. I didn’t drink then, but I still ended up at my fair share of parties, and believe me, drinking was happening and it was in someone’s parents’ house. I never, ever saw the parents, so were they all away, a la Risky Business? Supposedly, things were more lax back in the 80s, when I was growing up. But is that really true? There were parties in people’s houses then, and there are parties now.
It’s a fairly commonly held belief among parents that if you let your teens drink in your house, you are keeping them safer by knowing where they are and what they’re doing. But what about this scenario: A doctor and his wife were charged with giving alcohol to minors and corruption of minors after a party at their house. The police officers who ended up at the house rounded up nine teenagers in the basement, where they found beer bottles and cans, a plastic beer bong, a “beer pong table,” and joints. The parents said they allowed their 17-year-old son to host parties at the house and emphasized that they did not let any of the underage drinkers drive home.
In an article in The Pittsburgh Tribune, Carnegie Mellon University police Chief Tom Ogden said this about parents: “They say, ‘Oh, just drink in the basement, but it’s stupid, it’s irresponsible, and it’s criminal. It’s a problem with the attitudes of these parents. Rather than tell their kids no and hold them accountable for their actions, they try to be their cool friends.”
Another policeman, Officer McDonough said, “They think because the kids are drinking in the basement that everything is fine, but how are they going to keep track of all those kids? And if one leaves and gets into a DUI crash, now innocent lives are being affected.”
Whether you do or do not let them drink in your house, teens will gather, and alcohol might or might not be involved. What is your stance regarding your (or other people’s) underage teens? Would you let your teens drink with their friends in your house? Would you host a party and if you did, would you stand there, monitoring everyone? This is one of those hot-button, no-win topics, it would seem…What do you think? (As a postscript, I wonder how this issue plays out–or doesn’t–in other countries. Think of France, where teens have been sipping wine since they were kids. Would their parents get arrested for underage drinking? It almost makes one wonder if the drinking age doesn’t create certain problems of forbidden fruit…)