Tag Archives: underage drinking

House Party Rules


Graduation, prom and end of year celebrations are under way. Flowers are purchased, restaurant reservations made, and for many people living outside of a city, house parties are planned. For some families a child’s life is integrated and celebrated by extended family and friends. Adults gather and toast the graduate while bestowing generous gifts (which may very well be the point of the party.) For other households prom, graduation and end of year parties are populated by the child and his/her friends and acquaintances. These parties can be seen as a gift or reward for a job well done. Some parents simply prefer to know where their kid is and therefore allow/create a party. Whatever the motivation, there will be authorized house parties across this great land now and throughout the summer.

House parties can go well and be civilized, but that rarely happens by accident. In olden days perhaps the greatest concern a parent might have is that of destruction. We can all probably conjure a bit of household destruction that we witnessed/caused in our own youth. A broken coffee table or a car driving through the living room wall is nothing compared to incarceration however. Parents can and will be arrested for children drinking on the property. Whether you’ve got a great lawyer or bail bondsman the truth of the matter is that the cops are always a buzzkill. So before the first foot-long is even ordered create your party sanity strategy.

These are simply (though perhaps not easy) ways to ensure that no one will end up in jail

Size Matters
Invitation only is key (this was the case before social media as well)
You and your child determine the size of the party
Your child understands that when the party exceeds the limits the party is over

Only As Far As The Eye Can See
Determine what area of the house/property guests are allowed to use
This controls household damage & allows for adults to manage surveillance

Employ Chuck-E-Cheese Tactics
Adults accompany their children to birthday parties
Guess Who’s Coming To The Party? If you can not get every child’s parent there employ friends
Adults will periodically make rounds, mingle, smell breath & check bedrooms

There are teenagers who will balk at these guidelines and claim that he/she is not a child. The fact of the matter is that legally, yes they are children. And parents are legally (and morally and ethically) expected to protect the child, often from him/herself. A child who wants to be treated like an adult (and hosting a party is an adult endeavor) is expected to behave like an adult. Adults do not destroy each other’s property (outside of reality television shows) nor do they engage in behaviors that are verboten in a host’s home. A teenager who’s interested in having their friends get together and celebrate will not balk at these guidelines. A teen who was looking to make party history and get wasted will have some issues.

Teens break rules; it’s actually their job. They will push limits in order to learn their own limits. Our job as parents is to give them something to rebel against. A child without limits and whose parents are his/her best friend will have to go to some extreme lengths to test limits. That’s never a good thing. Coffee tables break, mistakes are made, none of it matters as long as the kids are all right.

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Childhood


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Managing Binge Drinking

animal house

Not every college students spends 5 out of 7 days binge-drinking. But to look at Facebook photos (and videos!) you would certainly think that is the case. It’s simply not possible to be that intoxicated all the time and still pass your classes; even in the most remedial of college programs. But there are a fair share of schools at which it appears that the number one form of recreation is drunkenness (which is not the same as ‘drinking’.) This behavior, even if we were to ignore the immaturity of it, is not innocuous. It’s physically dangerous. People die, people are raped, bad things happen. (College students would be a lot further ahead if pot became the substance of choice. There’s no such thing as ‘pot poisoning’ and long before a user would consider a violent act, they’ve nodded out.)

For parents (and others) who are concerned about the excess it’s helpful to consider the root causes. For students aged 17-22 there are probably finite reasons for habitual binge-drinking. There is most likely some percentage who suffer from alcoholism (a condition which has no age limitation.) But for the rest of the students it could be issues of social maturity and/or boredom. For the socially immature, they may be best served in a community college (living at home) for a while, or at a very small school at which social interactions are less daunting and actively encouraged. The socially immature should be encouraged to step away from the keyboard and find people with like interests (e.g., clubs, religious groups, teams, performance groups.) Even if this was all encouraged and done in high school, some people are never quite comfortable socially. For them it might be best to talk about managing their intoxication. With enough coaxing and patience you might be able to come up with a plan that helps the student avoid dangerous levels of drunkenness. (i.e., “When I no longer can hear the music, it’s time to stop.” or “I will always eat and drink water while drinking booze.”) We may never love underage binge (or any other kind of) drinking, but we do want our children to learn to be responsible and to care for themselves.

Binge drinking out of boredom seems much simpler to manage. If the student is seasonally bored (ex. he/she is an athlete on their off-season) a job or heavier course-load every other semester could work wonders. If the student is continuously bored they might be at the wrong school. Perhaps they’re disinterested in academics all together? Perhaps the rigor of the institution is not challenging? Perhaps they’d be more suited to an urban university? It’s best to address the issue before serious time and money is wasted (pun intended.)

There’s nothing wrong with letting off steam, making a fool of oneself, and learning one’s limits. But there is something troubling about defining one’s college experience with a series of blurry drunken episodes. One of the simplest and time-tested methods to ensure that a person gets the most they can out of an experience is for them to have a financial interest in the endeavor. Working during every school break, or at school not only breaks up any boredom, it boosts social maturity and self-esteem. It also helps (anyone at any age) to consider the value of what they’re paying for when they are paying for it themselves.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Education


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