Teens & Drinking: What Would You Do?

My daughter and I have a pretty open relationship. She’s actually a really cool kid, way more level-headed and mature than I was at 17. But she presented me with a dilemma a few weeks ago, and I still haven’t decided what to do about it.

We were sitting around one afternoon, and she mentioned that one of her 16-year-old friends, whom I’ll refer to as TT (Teen Trouble!) had begun drinking alcohol. TT is not a close friend of my daughter’s, more of an acquaintance-type friend. TT told her that (s)he drank alcohol whenever visiting a certain friend’s house. TT explained the friend’s parents not only provided the alcohol, but played drinking games with TT along with their own child. The reason TT’s parents don’t know is because TT spends the night at the friend’s home whenever they drink. I was shocked; and had an immediate flashback to my own teen years.

When I was in high school, there were some parents who provided alcohol to their children and friends who came over. Their philosophy was that “hey, they’re going to do it anyway, may as well get wasted here in my house.” Of course, as a kid, I never thought much about it, except to be impressed at how “cool” so-and-so’s parents were. But now, looking through the eyes of a parent….

What the heck is wrong with these “adults”?! Is it really that important to be the “cool” parent? And news flash: it is so NOT cool!

So now comes the dilemma part. I sat down and wrote a letter to the parents of my daughter’s acquaintance. It is still sitting in my planner pocket. Unmailed. I hesitate for several reasons: I don’t know TT’s parents very well, and I certainly don’t know the parents who are providing the alcohol. I don’t want my daughter to feel she can’t share things with me anymore.

I’ve thought about sending the letter anonymously. The problem is I don’t know how many other people TT has told. Would there be repercussions against my daughter? But, if the situation were reversed, I would want to know!

I’m torn about how to handle this. What would you do?

Image by: Timsnell


The Mother said...

I don't know where you live, but where I live, giving alcohol to a minor who is not your own is VERY illegal. We do give small amounts of wine to our children on special occasions, under the theory that, if it isn't a mystery, they won't be so eager to dive in when confronted outside the home. That said, if there is a friend over, NO ONE gets wine. Period. Not safe, and very wrong.

I would sit down and talk to my daughter and explain why you are about to make a stink. Then make it.

Call TT's parents and tell them what you "heard." You don't have to mention your daughter (they'll probably figure it out, but you don't have to be blatant).

Since your daughter isn't involved, you should probably leave it to TT's parents to deal with the other set of parents.

Anonymous said...

Put yourself in the shoes of the parents of the "friend who spends the night when she drinks at "TT"s house. Would you want to know? Might be a better idea to alert the friends parents. They probably know the parents who are providing the alcohol better and it would be better for them to approach them. Then, step back and see what happens. Explain to your daughter what you're doing so that you don't risk losing her confidences.

Kelly said...

That is an apoplectic situation, and I don't know if I have an answer for it. I think your daughter deserves major props for telling you about it!

Melanie said...

I would get involved. If it was your daughter who was drinking alcohol at a friend's house, I know you would want to know! You could ask your daughter her opinion, but it sounds like she knows it's dangerous and might be asking for your help / intervention in not so many words.

Unfortunately, an anonymous letter might be ignored. If presented with an anonymous letter, the young woman could convince her parents it wasn't true, etc.

You're in a tough situation! Good luck and let us know what you decide to do.

Melissa said...

I guess, since you have such an open relationship with your daughter, it might be beneficial to bring your concerns to her and tell her what you feel compelled to do. It might damage your relationship with your daughter to do this without at least giving her a head's up.

She might be embarrassed at the idea, but I think if you feel you can talk to her about it like an adult, you can explain to her why it's not your place to judge but that it IS TT's PARENTS' place to judge. That, if it were your daughter in this situation, you'd want to be told, not so you could bring the law down on her head, but so that you could decide, as a parent, what you felt would be best for your child.

So, perhaps you should tell your daughter what you want to do, and ask for her calm, mature, young-adult input. Then notify the parents through a phone call, letting them know that, even though you aren't close to the parents, and that you aren't passing any sort of judgment against them or their daughter, you felt they should be aware so they could take action (or not take action) as they felt necessary.


Nana Ruth said...

How about suggesting to TT's parents that they read your latest blog. Talk to your daughter and find out how she feels about this. This is a tough one!

Annette Piper said...

Oh dear - I can see your dilemma but since your daughter is so mature I would probably speak to her further about it and say that the only responsible thing to do is to let the parents of the child that is indulging know.

Hopefully these parents are understanding. If you know them I would probably try to advise them in person as you will be able to monitor the situation as it unfolds and take the appropriate tack.

I don't envy you the task, but I think it is important not to ignore it. All you are doing is letting them know - then the ball is in their court if they want to do something about it. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Since your daughter trusted you enough to tell you about the drinking, I think you can trust her enough to tell her your intentions. You don't need to make it out to be the end of the world, just tell her your as concerned for tt as you are for her own safety. Then, tell tt's parents what you "heard" as was suggested by someone else.

My daughter's friend began drinking at an early age, 17 or 18, I don't know for sure. But she's dead now, from an alcohol related car accident. My daughter told me about the friend's habits, but I never said anything to the girl's mom. Not something I'm proud of.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Wow. Thank you all for sharing with me. I really appreciate it. That last posting by Anonymous really clinched it for me. I'll speak with my daughter first, but I'm notifying TT's parents. Thank you all once again.