Recently my son who is 16 went out to a friends birthday. He had a few drinks, many actually. This is something that I do not agree with and he ended up being very sick. I was not called till the morning that this even happened and was asked by his friends to come and get him. The parents were home and took care of him over the night. I was not happy with this. I have grounded him for two weeks from everything. What else should I be doing? I did say that the sleepovers are over and he will come home at a decent hour set by myself and my husband. I just want some advice as this scared me very much.
Todd Johnson, JD Replied:|
Under aged drinking is indeed a problem and I think the punishment you have given him is appropriate. However, I also think that it is very important to sit down with your son and discuss the incident.
There are really two issues here. First, is the fact that he was drinking before he was legal to do so. Whether right or wrong, most teenagers do drink at least something before they legally are allowed to. They face peer pressure to do so and many are frankly wondering about this thing that they are not supposed to do. I would discuss with him being his own person and not giving in to peer pressure. Just because his friends are drinking doesn't mean he has to also. You can have fun without the use of alcohol. I would also discuss the way he felt getting sick and how he felt the next morning.
I assume that his school also has strict rules against drinking and if so he would lose eligibility to be involved in school activities if he is caught drinking.
The second issue I think is the more important issue. That is the excessive use of alcohol. Most of the problems that people have with alcohol is related to excessive use. Discuss with your son the problems that can occur. Driving while under the influence can result in a large fine, jail time and huge increases in car insurance if you can even get it. And even worse, such behavior can result in the serious injury or death of people in your car and people in other cars around you.
Alcohol poisoning is also a very real concern particularly with young inexperienced drinkers. Many people die every year because of excess alcohol consumption.
If there is any family history of alcoholism that should also be discussed with your son as there is a genetic component to this disease.
This talk with your son should not be just you talking but also asking him about his thoughts on some of these issues. I believe that having an open discussion about alcohol is much more productive than just giving out punishment.
The final thing I would do is to tell your son that while you do not approve of his drinking, that if he has any alcohol, even one drink, that he should not drive or ride with a driver that has had anything to drink. Instead, he should call you, whatever the time, and that you will pick him up with no repercussions that evening. Better to be safe than sorry with stakes this high.
I hope that gives you some guidance on how to address this issue with your son. Good luck.
Posted On: 4/23/2010
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied:|
Certainly, your son needed to have severe consequences for his unhealthy (and illegal) behavior. But grounding him likely won't stop the behavior. You need to have an open discussion with him about why he drank and why he drank to excess. But before that conversation, you and your husband have to have a conversation about what is acceptable behavior for your son. Some parents have zero tolerance for under-age drinking. Others figure it will happen one way or the other, so the goal is to teach responsible drinking and to ensure no drunk driving. Once you've come to some consensus, then you can sit down with your son and ask a lot of questions, listen, and share your views on his drinking.
Also, what were the birthday boy's parents thinking? They were allowing under-age drinking in their presence. You and your husband also need to talk about how you feel about this. I would suggest that, for future parties that you know about, you ask the parents whether they will be present and whether they condone under-age drinking. If you don't agree with their approach, then you have the right to not allow your son to attend (though his reaction will likely be strong and resistant).
Ultimately, parents must decide how they feel about under-age drinking, the health and legal risks, and what lessons and habits, whatever you decide, children will learn from these experiences.
Posted On: 4/23/2010
Gary Pritchard Replied:|
Having 3 sons and the youngest now 18…I can feel your pain and also your frustration.
Here’s how we dealt with this and many other issues which may be of some help:
We called it the “wall of trust” Every time we trusted one of our sons to make good decisions and he “floundered” the wall of trust went to the ground.
Just like you we grounded, took away privileges that he had to earn back ..building the wall of trust back up once again. We explained to him ..life is a "bowl of choices" and we have to practice making good choices. Each time they make good ones and build the trust. Much praise was in order…(catch them doing things right)
When they failed, we learned not to get mad and scream .. we took the approach that we felt bad. That because of his poor choices certain privileges and opportunities are not possible.
(basically we were saying it’s not our fault your life is uncomfortable it’s your choices that brought this on..not us)
There’s a story about “trust” from our book”105 Great Stories” you can tell your son:
"Once upon a time, Fire, Water and Trust were walking in the woods. They started planning what they would do if they got separated. Fire said, “Look for the smoke, that’s where I’ll be.”
Water said, “Look for the green grass and flowers, that’s where I’ll be.”
Trust said, “You’d better not lose me because if you lose me—you might never get me back again.”
If you don’t have trust nothing else will work."(end of story)
Hang it there… boys back around by 18yrs or so ..Consistency wins ..keep being consistent ..regardless what the other parents are supposedly doing.. also..Trust your gut.
When you sense something might be up...
9 times out of 10 your gut feeling is right..
Posted On: 4/26/2010
Ashley Hammond Replied:|
You have every right to be scared as alcohol poisoning can kill and vomiting is a sign that the body is reacting very badly to the amount of alcohol consumed. Choking (on the vomit)and straight forward alcohol poisoning are both consequences when a person has too much alcohol in their system. Your son was in a very serious medical condition and he should be have the seriousness of this situation explained to him by a professional. At a minimum you should express your concerns to the parents that took care of your son and clearly he should not be allowed to return to that house supervised or not. my strongest suggestion for you is to research child alcohol abuse and work with your son through a professional counselor to discuss his situation.
Posted On: 5/04/2010