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My 15 year od son left the house New Years at 1am, after my husband and I went to bed. He attended a party at a neighbor friends house. The friends parents provided alcohol to him and other teens. The father of the friend called me the next morning to say that my son damaged his wifes car while at his house drunk. I was a bit taken back since I did not even know my son was there. My son then lied continuiously stating he was not there. He finally confessed after much pressure. I want to address the situation properly. My son is punished how should I punish this parent. I am not a amateur, I have 6 children ranging from 26 years to 8 years.


Amy Sherman Replied: This is a tough one. Adults are supposed to be responsible for the children in their care. This party, attended by children under the drinking age, was a classic case of how alcohol can sabotage an individual's good judgment. If your son did do damage to the car (and you have proof), then he is responsible for the repairs. I am sure your puniishment fits the crime. As for the friend's parents, they are guilty of having a wild party and allowing under age children to drink. The only thing you can to at this point, is to file a report with the police about the incident (this is just a report to stay on file). If something like this happens again, the police will handle matters.
Posted On 2010-01-14 13:45:21
Ashley Hammond Replied: From what I read your son left the house without permission from either you or your husband. Clearly his choice was nothing to do with the neighbor and that issue needs to be dealt with separately. For this I suspect something else is going on. That he feels that he can disregard family rules etc is not a good thing and needs to be addressed quickly. With 5 other children he sounds like he has seen older brothers and or sisters do some cutting edge stuff and is pushing the envelope. As for the other family. This was clearly a poor decison and if taken to the police could see them in some serious leagl trouble. You did not mention if they were looking for compensation for the damage but I assume they will realize that drawing attention to their actions is probably unwise. I am not sure how the other family can be "punished" or that it is even appropriate. They broke the law but so did your son and to some extent you were negligent. Everyone is already paying here. What is more important is addressing the issues of why your son did what he did and how do you prevent it in the future. Clearly for your son this house MUST be a no go zone moving forward and a tigher scrutiny of the friends AND parents of the friends that he visits with is needed. My advice in these situation is also to seek family counselling. This can often be done very inexpensiviely through local programs and is a great way to get perspective and guidance on such difficult issues. Simply talking about it with somone who will not judge you will be cathartic and make it all seem much more manageable. Good Luck
Posted On 2010-01-10 08:44:48
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: You indicate that you have punished your son (BTW, I love that you call it punishment rather than the more politically correct 'consequences). Let's address that issue first to ensure that his punishment will have maximum learning value to him. First, something should be taken away from him that he values greatly (e.g., Xbox, freedom, social opportunities). The best kind of punishment is something that is closely linked to the transgression. Because his bad behavior was social, removing social opportunities would be ideal. But he was doubly bad, not only did he sneak out of your house late at night, he also lied to you. Second, you should have some serious discussion with him about the dangers of drinking (I assume you already have, but this is a great teachable moment) and costs of dishonesty. If your son has a close relationship with his older siblings and they are good role models of responsibility and honesty, you might enlist them to have a talk with him as they have more immediate credibility than you in such matters. Your son should be able to earn back your trust with good decision making and behavior as well. As to the father, though I'm obviously not an attorney or an ethicist, I would argue that you owe him nothing (it sounds like he is asking you to pay for the car damage). He was a co-conspirator of sorts in your son's dishonesty. He encouraged underage drinking (which is illegal). And the damage your son did his wife's car is a direct result of his irresponsibility. Also, if you have a relationship of some sort with this father and his wife, it would be worthwhile to sit down with them and discuss your views on underage drinking and dishonesty (be sure it is a collaborative discussion rather than one of accusation). Hopefully, you can come to some consensus on future such parties.
Posted On 2010-01-04 10:51:17
Dr. Tom Greenspon Replied: Actually punishing your neighbor does not sound either wise or useful, unless you want to start a pointless, long-lasting war! Your son's behavior calls for serious discussion and decision making. You are probably thinking, and I would agree with you, that the neighbor should be held to an even higher standard as an adult and a parent. It's time for a conversation between you and your neighbors about this whole episode. It could begin with your expressing understanding of their concern about the car, but also explaining that you have other concerns as well. You realize they didn't force your son to drink, but apparently they did make alcohol available to him, and you see this as both dangerous and illegal. You will want assurances that they will not do this again, and that they will contact you if your son is at their house. Not knowing them, I can't predict whether they will be apologetic and helpful, defiant and angry, or unconcerned. A negative reaction from them would at the least mean their house becomes off-limits to your son. I would suggest your son be a part of this conversation as well.
Posted On 2010-01-03 21:35:00
Stephen Jones Replied: There are two main issues. If the parent was a a responsible parent he would not let an under aged child drink in his home. Secondly he would not let the child come to his home at 1:00 at night. It appears that he is not aware of his responsibility as a parent. I suggest that you contact your lawyer and the police regarding this matter. How many other children were at this event whop could harm themselves or others. Age is not always an indication of whether a person is a parent. The actions during that night demonstrated that this neighbor is not a responsible adult. You must also continue to hold your son accountable for his actions. The police could require some type of community center. Your son could benefit from a college age mentor who can keep him on track.
Posted On 2010-01-03 18:43:25
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