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My 13-year-old son has come home from friend's houses with alcohol on his breath a few times. My husband says that a drink here and there is nothing to worry about. My husband is not an alcoholic; he's never been drunk although he has a glass or two of wine to help him fall asleep every evening. We've talked to our son about drugs and alcohol, and we live in a good school district, but his friends seem to have lots of access to adult beverages. I'm so worried about my son, I haven't been sleeping well. Please advise!


Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: While kids do tend to experiment with ‘adult beverages,' you also have every right to want to address the issue. However, if you are so worried that you are losing sleep, then I encourage you to look deep inside yourself and see where that anxiety is coming from. Usually, when our reactions are that emotionally charged, we are reacting from a place of experience, usually in our childhood. Over-reactions can be just as ineffective as under-reactions, so take a look at your own underlying feelings. "He's not an alcoholic, but…" sounds as though you actually have concern about your husband's, and that his drinking is not comfortable to you. You may also be worried of the role model he is presenting to your son. Ignoring it, or just blowing it off, may be sending your son a message of permissiveness. This is a discussion that you need to have with your husband. Your son is getting older, and may very well present with more challenges of adolescence to which you and your husband will need to present a united front. If you are concerned about your son's easy access to alcohol, then have him invite his friends to your home where there is more supervision. Set a rule that he is not allowed to go to friends' homes where there is not supervision, and stick to it. Instead of ‘talking to him' about drugs and alcohol, try having a discussion. Listen to what he is experiencing. He may enjoy it, be pressured into it, be testing limits, etc. Leave room for questions and give him factual answers, not lectures. Leave lines of communication open; you will need them as he continues on his journey into adulthood.
Posted On 2009-10-12 17:37:13
Ashley Hammond Replied: The overwhelming evidence on youth drinking does not support your husbands stance and I strongly recommend the use of counselling and or youth services to discuss this situation with both your son and your husband. The perils of trading alcohol and drugs for good grades by SO MANY parents can and does lead to tragic consequences all too often. The majority of young people may survive the dangers of early drinking best explained by others but some ALWAYS fall through the cracks and issues such as school dropout, alcoholism and death due to impaired judgement are directly linked to children that start drinking early. You are right to be concerned and discussing this with your husband is crucial.
Posted On 2009-10-04 14:55:13
Gary Pritchard Replied: I would be concerned as well ...13 is too young to be exposed to drinking. Suggest you talk to these friend's parents and get to know them and where they stand on this issue. Get to know the boys your son is spending time with.. create a parent network between the parents to help better understand what is going on.

Suggest establishing some ground rules and hold them accountable for their decisions ( make sure there are consequences for poor decisions.

At this age... who they are hanging out with has so much to do with the direction they are headed.
Posted On 2009-09-22 08:13:37
Amy Sherman Replied: I agree with you. There is some cause for concern. A 13 year old boy should not be drinking, AT ALL. Unfortunately, your husband does not see the bigger picture. If your son has acquired a taste for alcohol at this young age, what would stop him from drinking more as he enters high school and is subject to more peer pressure, the stress of fitting in, etc. Not only should you be talking to your son about the problems alcohol creates, but you should be helping him learn better coping skills to offset the influences of his friends. Perhaps, a lesson on how alcohol affects young bodies, how it interferes with making good decisions, or how it can lead to the use of heavier, more dangerous drugs. As for your husband, while he may not be an "alcoholic", he is using alcohol as a crutch to get him to sleep and therefore, may be too dependent on it. He should consult a medical professional about his sleeping difficulties.
Posted On 2009-09-21 14:46:19
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