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Hello - I'm not sure if you can help provide advice or not to the below situation but if not, could you please suggest other resources where I might ask the same questions to gain some insight and advice? I've tried to make it brief but not sure it's brief enough :) I have just returned from a 9 day trip while my husband and 2 kids (12 and 15) stayed at home. Last night my daughter (15) and I were discussing a couple of recent instances where a couple of her close friends had gotten drunk (a very new situation) and she was giving me the details of the events and how she felt about the situation. Up to this point my daughter seems to have had a strong resolve not to drink and hasn't particularly had a problem with saying no thanks when offered drugs or alcohol (her words, not mine). I asked her how that's been working for her and told her I was proud of her for being so strong in her decisions. I then followed up and said to her "and you've never gotten drunk yourself?" Thankfully for me, my daughter still shares a lot of information with me and she proceeded to tell me the following story: • While I was gone on my trip, she and a friend snuck out of the house (while my husband peacefully snored away) at 1am and went to another friends house who was having somewhat of a party (parents were home but they have a separate dwelling where the kids hang out). • Kids at the party were drinking and she thought she'd try it for a change • She had 2 beers (I'm guessing more than that or something else based on the remaining details) and proceeded to get absolutely smashed. She said she couldn't walk, they video taped her doing super stupid stuff, she alternated between laying on the ground and falling over drunk, etc. Not a fun time she said. • She said she needed to go home and just be at her own house and did manage to get home sometime around 6am (yes, my husband was still sleeping and didn't notice). I asked her how she got home because my biggest message to my kids has always been NEVER get in the car with someone has been drinking. She said the person that drove her home was sober. • Once home, she said she proceeded to throw up for hours and said she's never felt so terrible in her entire life. One of her friends was with her who had had a similar experience not long ago and stood by and took care of her for the day. She said it was the most horrible experience of her life and she vowed then and there to never drink again (I wish!!). • We talked about how some people could handle alcohol and some couldn't and she was likely going to be one of those who couldn't (she's very petite) and that the effects on her would likely to result in the same type of experience. I told her that if she made the choice to do it again, she should just know that she's probably one of those people who fall more in the category of making an ass of one's self when drunk vs. being a fun/funny drunk and she needs to know that moving forward. Basically, if you want to drink, know you're going to get stupid and likely do very stupid things so be prepared for the consequences of that. Net/net, it's best that she not try drinking again. • I told her I was proud of her for telling me the truth and thanked her for telling me. So, long story short, here's my questions that I would like to get some parental advice and insight on: • Should we instill some punishment because of these events (sneaking out, getting drunk) even though she was honest with me and told me the story? My inclination is to say no because I don't want to punish honesty, but at the same time, I don't know that just talking about these events is the right course of action. • If punishment is the right thing to do, what do you suggest? • Should I contact the parents of the party (I know they were home, my daughter is good friends with the girl but I'm not overly close to the parents) to let them know what happened? I know my daughter would vehemently revolt at that decision because there would be repercussions and it would likely result in her not telling me things moving forward. Is the risk worth it? • How should I handle the situation with my husband? He knows nothing about the incident and my daughter said I could tell him the story but not tell him when it happened (she liked having more freedom when I was gone - I'm the one that's always talking to the parents, checking in, etc - though we see where that freedom got her). I do want to share the situation with him and though I'm mad this happened while I was gone, it could have easily happened while I was here. Any advice or insight you could provide would be fabulous as I'm sure there are millions of other parents out there needing the same advice. Thanks so much for your time.


Charlie Seymour Jr Replied: What a story - and you told it VERY well. 1st: Congrats for having such a wonderful relationship with your daughter. I'm sure you're thrilled that she can express things to you. Many other parents will be quite envious! 2nd: Let's see if my own story can help: I always told my kids that they do NOT have to obey the law. That's right... they do NOT! BUT... they must be ready to pay the consequences. So go ahead and speed, YOU will pay the ticket. Ever get in a car with a driver who has been drinking - lose your own driving privileges for a year. Don't wear a seatbelt when in a car (either as a passenger or driver), lose driving for a year. (I'll skip all the other examples). How does this affect you and your daughter? Perhaps you tell her WHAT your punishment is (grounded? No TV? What you feel it should be) but in THIS case, you've decided that her punishment was the way she felt the next day. I certainly would keep reminding her how she felt (making the impression on her unconscious mind that drinking leads her to be sick). 3rd: telling your husband? ABSOLUTELY. Now is not the time to keep things between partners. Hey, it's not his fault that he's a sound sleeper - so am I usually. And he wasn't the one to sneak out - he did nothing wrong. But the conversation needs to be in a way that shows that you have already handled the punishment and you need his support with the way you did it. 4th: Tell the other parents? YES. Handle it well. Go see the parent you feel closest to. Tell her/him that getting your daughter angry at you if all of this news gets out that YOU told them will be a sorry situation that must be avoided. But, at least in MY part of the country, parents allowing under-age drinking have gone to JAIL. It is a crime. And you're telling them to protect THEM and protect all the children who aren't mature enough to hold their alcohol... especially when driving. I hope this helps. Thanks so much for sharing it - my best wishes are with you as you travel the journey that continues with this.
Posted On 2010-08-19 19:04:03
Gary Pritchard Replied: Having been there with our 3 children I can greatly appreciate you angst.Here are a few thoughts of what we learned and had success with over the years. To answer your question regarding punishing your daughter after her being honest with you. We would have leaned towards giving her that "one break" for her honesty and a chance to see if in fact she did learn her lesson about drinking. Sneaking out of the house could lead to a lot more issues and we would want to "nip" that now. ( not to happen again) The two concepts we used with our kids were: the wall of trust .. we trusted them until they broke that trust ..your daughter sounds like a great kid .but everyone make mistakes especially at that age ..lots of social pressure… She broke down a pretty high wall of trust between you. So we would say ..the wall of trust is down to ground zero. trust had to be earned back. We removed certain privileges and gave a couple of added responsibilities around home that through their actions would prove their willingness to work back the trust. As we saw their willingness to work at it and good track record the wall of trust would build back up and we gave them more privileges and opportunities to do things. Our oldest definitely knocked the wall of trust down several times and had to start over. The younger two seemed to catch on from watching their older brother "crash and burn" a few times. Life is a bowl of choices; we are responsible for our choices ..with choices comes responsibility and consequences,, When one of the kids made a poor choice we would explain that we felt bad if privileges / activities etc had to taken away ..we felt for them ..but it wasn't our choice that caused this situation it was their choice, Every choice they make has consequences. Some good some not. Empower them to make the choices,,,it's practice , We want them to get plenty of practice and learn now while they are home before they are out on their own at college, As far as your concern of having your husband know ..My wife and I always felt we had to be united and consistent on this point. We may not have always let the chlld know the other knew. But we always shared what was going on. Kids are smart and will quickly learn how to divide parents and manipulate for their needs for the moment, Knowing the parents your daughter is hanging out with and know "their rules" and values is important We always felt we would never really know what was really going on with out support of other parents in their social group .. We tried to keep the parent conversations private form the kids to avoid kids feeling like they were "ratting out" someone else. I hope this helped ..hang in there... Sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your daughter and she's doing great. It's a journey for us and for them. As parents we lean from our choices too, All the best Gary
Posted On 2010-08-19 10:23:38
Tina Nocera Replied: I'm sure it feels as if you're on another planet right now.

The good news is that your daughter came to you with this discussion. Translating that to the teen world, she is looking for you to be the parent, in other words, the bad cop, the excuse, (you get the idea) the person to guard her from her peers. The next time this situation arises, she can tell her friends that her mother is the ‘All knowing, the all powerful Oz' and she will be in big trouble because you always find out what she is doing.

She needs you to protect her from this situation; that's why she is telling you.

For now, you have to talk to your husband about what happened - he is her father and has a right to know, but explain your plans which include:

• Consequences for your daughter because of her bad judgment
• Communicating with the parents of the host party

Please understand the discussion with the other parents will not be easy, but it is a much easier conversation than if a police officer showed up on your door to tell you that your daughter has just been arrested or worse.

I wish you the very best in this situation. You should feel comfort in the fact that you are asking the right questions that other parents would ignore and sweep under the rug.

You're doing a great job!
Posted On 2010-08-19 10:09:46
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: A very complex, interesting, and ultimately valuable situation you have had with your daughter. Her openness and honesty with you is admirable and that says a great deal about the kind of young woman you have raised. She should be applauded for that, but, at the same time, held accountable for her behavior. I also applaud you for your realistic view of what she did. You ask many questions, so I'll try to respond to them all. 1. Should you provide consequences? I think yes. The reality is that what she did was wrong several times over, sneaking out of the house, getting drunk, doing stupid things, having videos taken of those stupid things. There was A LOT of bad decision making going on that night. It sounds like your daughter is mature enough to understand that she deserves some sort of punishment. I would explore with her every bad decision she made, why she made it, and what the consequences were or could have been. I would have your daughter create her own punishment so she can't blame you for being so harsh. 2. Should you contact the parents of the party? I think yes, but ideally with support from your daughter. If she resists, I feel that you still have a responsibility for the safety of your daughter and her friends. Assuming that they didn't know about the party, they may very well want to know. 3. Should you tell your husband? No, your daughter should. This was a serious situation and your husband has a right to know. I don't think you can blame him for sleeping at night and not playing night watchman to prevent your daughter from sneaking out (if so, you should just lock her in her room at night; kidding!). He deserves to hear the entire story, participate in determining the consequences, and contribute to further discussions that will help your daughter make better decisions in the future. A few final thoughts. You and your husband should discuss your daughter drinking and perhaps using drugs. Come up with a united message. Depending on your values and sensibilities, you could reasonably assume a range of responses from zero tolerance because both are illegal, unhealthy, and dangerous to wise acceptance that most young people will do both and turn out just fine. There is no right or wrong answer in this discussion, just what you two believe. In the past, youthful indiscretions such as drinking were relatively private affairs kept with family and friends. But these days with mobile phones that have cameras and video recorders, acts of stupidity or carelessness can be globalized and memorialized forever in cyberspace (e.g., YouTube, Facebook). Serious discussions with your daughter should focus on these dangers, as well as those that are naturally inherent in people (of any age) drinking themselves silly.
Posted On 2010-08-18 16:08:55
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