This post was written by a senior at CSUCI.
I have a lot of friends, and parents of friends, who have differing opinions regarding their teens and alcohol. Some don’t care at all; they are the kind of parents who don’t have many rules at all for their kids, and although they aren’t directly informed about what their kids are doing, they don’t actually make any kind of effort to find out their whereabouts even late into the night. The kids I know that have parents like these are the ones that learned how to shotgun beers when they were 15, get blackout drunk on a semi-regular basis, use a Juul, and have a decent amount of familiarity with drugs. Granted, they also have very little drama at home, but I think they also just don’t really have a full relationship with their family either.
Another type of kid I knew growing up – and I fall into this category as well – were the kids who have extremely strict parents. My mom was strict to the point where I had my phone taken away on such a regular basis (and not for good reasons, in my opinion at least), my friends knew to check their emails on a regular basis as that was my second form of communication. I was also known as the responsible friend and the “mom friend” in school; I always discouraged my friends from doing things that sounded unsafe, made sure we had everything in order when we all hung out, and if I ever had a friend calling me crying or drunk or whatever, I would be there to pick them up and make sure they were safe. A big part of the reason for my lack of experimentation in high school was out of fear of my mother. Although I have no regrets about not drinking in high school, I wish I had a better relationship with my mom at the time. Things were difficult, and although we are very close now, I wish we could have been during my teenage years, which were an awkward and confusing time for me.
The last type of parent I know had a more lax parenting style, but also was involved in their kids life. These types of parents let their kids drink responsibly if there were home and kept the parents informed about what they were doing. When they got older, these were the kinds of kids that hosted parties the most often because it was okay with the parents and they were there to supervise if things got out of hand. I always liked to watch the interactions between these kinds of parents, because they seemed to have a very close relationship with their parents, more than the other two types I listed above. The only issue with this type of parenting, is that some kids will take advantage of the parents trust and end up doing things far beyond what the parent identified was acceptable. Although I like the premise of this relationship, I feel like this happens very often, especially with kids in high school who are experimenting.
Is one type of parenting better than the other? No.
They all have their issues with execution, and at the end of the day substance use is illegal for those under the age of 21. This conversation can be debatable, as some people make the point that others in certain foreign countries are allowed to drink at 18 and even 16 sometimes legally with parental consent. What we do know is that substance use before the brain is fully developed can be damaging, and there are better ways for kids to spend their time in my opinion, coming from someone who did just that.