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Author Topic: Underage drinkers  (Read 31643 times)

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Underage drinkers
« on: January 04, 2007, 03:13:32 PM »
I am at a loss as to how to handle this.  I feel that I handled it poorly at the time, but I'm not sure what I should have done.
Christmas eve my friend, her husband, and kids came over for our traditional get together.  We do a small gift exchange (it used to be a way to let the little ones open a present before Xmas day) and have a glass of wine & some nice snackies.
This year she brings over some Bailey's (for coffees) and 4 vodka coolers.  Her older children (both over legal age of 19) took 2 of the coolers and then she gave the other coolers to her daughter & my son - both only 15!  I balked at this.  We don't usually even have alcohol in the house.  My husband does not drink at all (due to a dodgy family history with alcohol) and I just don't bother much except on special occasions, and my friend knows this.
I was made to feel like the Grinch because I didn't think 15 year olds should be drinking. ("but it's only 7%???)  I finally gave in with stern warnings to youngieson that he had better make it last because there would be no more coming.  We then dropped the subject and went on to have a nice evening.
I don't know what to do now.  I feel like I gave in to peer pressure and set a bad example and now I feel like crap.  But now I am also wondering if the kids drink at her house when they go there.  I can't forbid my son to visit his friend, and  I don't want to lose my friend. 
I already seem to have a bit of a reputation with this friend as a "prude" about raising my boys but I don't think this is a negotiable area.


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 03:29:57 PM »
Holy cow. She has absolutely no right to be giving your children alcohol in the first place, and most definitely is out of line for acting like you had a problem  when you protested. What she is doing is illegal and is setting a bad example for her kids that they can participate in illegal activities. She sounds like one of those parents who thinks it's okay to let her kids drink, do drugs, etc., as long as she is there with them. Yeah, just give in to what the kids want to do rather than teach them right and wrong.

I understand you don't want to lose your friend or deprive your kids of their friendship with her kids (it's not their fault, after all), but like I said, what she is doing is illegal and potentially dangerous. You can have a serious, heart-to-heart discussion with her and explain your rules to her, and hopefully you will both come to the agreement that no alcohol is to be served to your children at her house. Or if you don't think she will honor this, or if she refuses, you will have to set the rule that your kids are forbidden to be in her house without you present. And is she wants to end the friendship over this, it will be very sad, but it's not worth compromising your kid's safety and well-being over.


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 03:34:43 PM »
MrsYoungie, I sympathize with being caught off guard.  It sounds like you are really against your 15 year old drinking, so perhaps next time being firmer with your 'no' would be appropriate.  If she wants to let her kids drink, it shouldnt be in your house (yes, you are liable for that, just ask the parents that held a post-prom (read:drinking) party at their house, who were then arrested.  Yes, they took everyone's keys, but underage is underage).  A simple "no drinks for the underage people"  should suffice, and if she presses, a "if you would like your children to have alcohol, please do it in your own home.  I cannot condone those actions or accept liability for them.'

If you are worried about your child drinking at her house, ask her, and ask your child.  Have a talk with both of them - separately - about what is appropriate.  She should abide by your wishes, and if she doesnt, I suggest monitoring your son's contact with that family more closely, and limiting it, if it goes too far.  

I am glad you continued to have a good time, and whether she thinks you are a prude or not, dont be afraid to have a backbone on this one.  Good luck!
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 03:39:23 PM »
In addition to kingsrings excellent points, I'd like to note that in a lot of places if the underage drinkers were caught, the host of the party would be considered legally responsible for the fact they'd been served alcohol.

If I go to a vegetarian's house for dinner, I do not expect to be served meat. If I go into a dry house, I do not expect to be offered liquor. If someone comes into my house, they'd best not expect to be allowed to smoke indoors. Just because your friend brought her own doesn't mean she has any business offering alcohol to minors in your home.


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 03:42:11 PM »
Back up the truck!  Way way way out of line on your friend's part!  She should have asked you first, and respected your wishes.  Period.  You were not a Grinch, you were a Parent!

My parents allowed my brother and I small amounts of wine or champagne at special occasions when we were teenagers.  But that was their decision, as our parents, and it was never more than a small amount. 


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2007, 03:42:33 PM »
I think you need to have a firm talk with your friend and set some non-negotiable boundaries:
1) She is not to serve alcohol to your children at any time.  Period.
2) She is not to bring it into your home without your permission.
3) If she is not willing to abide by those boundaries, your children will not be permitted in her home or in her company unsupervised.
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2007, 03:54:17 PM »
This is going to be hard.  I am a very non-confrontational person.  I plan on talking to my son.  Actually we have talked about this already.  I make no bones about it - I very deliberately sniff him when he comes home from anywhere.  I sniff for alcohol, smoke, pot, whatever.
Hopefully this problem won't arise for another 12 months, at which time she wil be warned in advance not to bring drinks for the kids.


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2007, 06:05:28 PM »
Wow, i can totally understand how you were caught off guard, too. Isn't it odd how you expect things like that & "peer pressure" to just sort of be gone by the time you're an adult?

I think i am one of the more liberal e-hellions & even i agree that your friend was out of line. You've got every right to be peeved. Talking to your friend about it doesn't have to be confrontational, and hopefully she won't make it out to be. A gentle but firm "Next time please ask before you offer children alcohol in my home & listen to my response w/o arguing with me about it. It's my roof & my kids, please respect my wishes," sort of thing could do it, maybe?

I am guessing you are in Canada, since you said legal age of 19? Odd how down here in the US it would be an even bigger deal because 21 is "of age," and i think most of Europe doesn't even have a drinking age, so it would be a non-issue. ( I could be wrong there, just conjecturing.) Not trying to thread-jack; it's just kind of interesting.
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2007, 06:30:12 PM »
I agree with all the other posters.  We rarely have alcohol in our house either, as I don't like the taste and DH isn't fussed either way.  I don't care if legal age (18 in Australia) people bring alcohol to our house and drink it but I would very definitely put my foot down if they offered it to my underage children, or any underage children actually.  (Considering they're only 6 and 10 now that hopefully won't be arising in the near future. lol).

Also too, I'm assuming you're in either the US or Canada, where driving lessons seem to be taught in schools from the age of about 16?  What happens if this friend offers her child, or someone else's, alcohol and they drink and drive?

I know it can be hard when you're caught on the hop like you were, but hopefully this "friend" will listen next time you say no to something as serious as this.


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2007, 07:24:59 PM »
She was so far out of line you'd need a telescope just to find the vapour trail.

If your house is usually dry she needs to respect that.  And if anyone offered alcohol to my 15-year old AGAINST MY EXPRESS WISHES IN MY OWN HOUSE I would throw her out. 

The first place to start is with your son.  Does he know about his father's family history with alcohol?  Does he understand that makes him more likely to suffer alcohol addiction himself (it's hereditary - I am the widow of an alcoholic and know that of which I speak!).  If not, it's probably time he does. 

In my experience teenagers do respond to logic and reasons.  "Don't drink alcohol because I say not to" is probably not going to fly.  "If you choose to drink alcohol, these are the likely consequences" works better.  Their mouths (and part of their brains) says "but that won't happen to ME" but the information sinks in, swirls around and often does come out as changed behaviour. 

Sit down with your son and husband and together thrash out a Drug and Alcohol Policy Agreement.  The key word is TOGETHER.  Your son needs to have his chance to have input, and to have his suggestions treated with respect and consideration.  If his suggestions are not possible, he needs reasons why; "because we say not" will probably not be accepted as a good reason.  Of course you will have non-negotioable areas and these should be made clear in advance of any negotiation.

The Agreement should contain penalties for infraction.  This includes penalties for you and your husband if you break your part of the agreement.  You should also make it explicit that this agreement is made In Good Faith; that is, no party will try and weasel out of their obligations by sticking to the letter and not the spirit.

You can protect him against peer pressure to drink to a certain extent, but you need to train him to be his own policeman.  That does not necessarily mean allowing him alcohol on the grounds that it teaches him to drink sensibly (a common practice) if you object to it.  It does mean teaching him to consider the consequences of his actions, to himself and other people. 

You also need to tell your friend not to bring alcohol into your house any more.  Your house, your rules.  Also tell her that if you can't trust her not to defy your parenting wishes right in front of you, no more unsupervised visits to her house for your son.  Have her son over instead.
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2007, 07:41:29 PM »
In Ohio (USA) it is only legal to give alcohol to YOUR child and only in your presence.  If you hand it to a child who is not yours. it is illegal. Period. End of statement.

Saying that, this woman had no right to liqure up your son, and you could have had her arrested for it.

We had a "graduation party" (high school) in our area last year where the PARENTS of the graduating child had several kegs of beer for the party.  At a rented hall, needless to say, police showed up and every child that was underage (21) was counted up and the parents were given a $1000.00 fine PER CHILD.  If I remember correctly it was somewhere in the neiborhood of 100 children. 

Yes $100,000.00 fine.  And for once the judge didn't suspend it.

But - Man it was some Party!!
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2007, 08:53:49 PM »
Good on the judge. :D  Good to see one that has some common sense.

Here in Australia the end of year 12 is marked by a thing called "Schoolies".  It's where a lot of kids go a particular beach suburb and party hard for a week or so  (drink, drugs etc).  The thing with being in Queensland is that most kids are still only 17 when they graduate.  Parents go and buy their kids alcohol to take with them, as 18 is the legal drinking age.  I don't care how uncool I seem (to the kids) but I will not under any circumstances be buying my underage children alcohol at any point.  My younger child will only be 16 when he graduates and I doubt I'll be letting either of them actually attend schoolies. 


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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2007, 10:24:25 PM »
This year she brings over some Bailey's (for coffees) and 4 vodka coolers.  Her older children (both over legal age of 19) took 2 of the coolers and then she gave the other coolers to her daughter & my son - both only 15!  I balked at this.  We don't usually even have alcohol in the house.  My husband does not drink at all (due to a dodgy family history with alcohol) and I just don't bother much except on special occasions, and my friend knows this.
You are absolutely right; 15-year-olds have no business drinking and this friend appalls me because she knows of your DH's family history. 

Alcohol is very bad for a developing brain as well as body.  There are all sorts of studies about this.  There is also good news:  If a person with this family history abstains from booze until after 20 years old, he is at relatively little risk of becoming a full-blown alcoholic.  Hold the line as long as you can!

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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2007, 11:53:39 PM »
You should not have bent on that one, sorry. But you cannot give alcohol to a fifteen year old, especially when it violates your principles. It is against the law. I don't care how low the percentage is, alcohol is alcohol. If you were caught you could have faced serious legal trouble.
I'm glad you discussed it with your son, and I hope that will be the last you hear of it. But I think that you need to talk to this friend also. I mean, what if she were to serve alcohol to your son in her house? Tell her that you do not condone underage drinking and that you cannot allow your children to partake in it. Period.
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Re: Underage drinkers
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2007, 12:03:54 AM »
I would give an underage soldier a beer in my house, with or without her mothers permission.