Behold the American teenager. Never before in the history of mankind has any human since the time of conception been more protected, surveilled, and sheltered from all of life’s potential hazards
As parents we planned for every worst case scenario and then initiated safety procedures heretofore known only to NASA to make sure it never happened. Our kids wore so much padding to ride their bikes they had trouble bending their knees to pedal and we baby proofed our homes to such an extent that we just gave up opening the kitchen cabinets altogether. Our children never really played outside instead they had structured, supervised playdates which, if you were a “good parent,” featured a “learning” component. And we’ve stranger dangered our kids so thoroughly we’ve raised a generation that has trouble making eye contact.
Our food fears lead us to requiring an origin story on every edible substance that entered our grocery cart. And we triumphed over evil and red dye 40 by changing school parties so that almost any processed, refined sugar substance was verboten and cupcakes were replaced with organic carrot sticks from a locally sourced, fair trade, farmer.
We track our kids every move via their electronic devices and check their grades three times a day by logging into the school’s parent portal. If there’s an app for real-time viewing what our child is doing we have it.
That is until our teenager’s weekend rolls around and then the disconnect happens. Someone please explain to me how parents who boast that their 15-year-old has never eaten an Oreo or still won’t let their 9th grader ride a skateboard on the street now have a “Hey, it’s okay for my high school kid and their friends to drink alcohol at my house” policy.
Law Enforcement calls this “social hosting” and a “serious misdemeanor.” Sadly, it’s nothing new. We all remember the parents who had a laissez-faire attitude about drinking when we were teenagers. Yet, when I was kid I was consuming cyclamates in my Kool Aid, guzzling hormone infused milk, probably inhaling what amounted to a pack a cigarettes a week due to secondhand smoke from my mother’s Winston Light’s and spending many unsupervised hours playing on train tracks with friends. One would think that our 21st century obsession with our children’s safety would mandate that we, as parents, would be all “Oh hell no” about welcoming our teen and their school friends to engage in risky and illegal behaviors in our home.
But that’s not how it’s going down. Instead you have parents that are of the don’t ask don’t tell camp as in “well, if you and your friends sneak alcohol into the basement just hide the evidence so I can pretend not to know.” Other moms and dads kick it old school and use the time-worn phrase of “they’re going to do it anyway so it’s better that they’re drinking at my house so no one drives drunk” and then there’s the “kids need to learn to handle alcohol before they go to college.”
Let’s break down these excuses by levels of idiocy. The whole don’t ask, don’t tell is a sham and news flash thanks to Snapchat, screenshots of Snapchats, and other forms of social media, including “finstragram” (fake Instagram accounts) everyone knows kids are drinking at your house, including other parents. So your secret is out.
As for the “it’s safer for kids to drink at home” to that I say, is it? Are you monitoring the children drinking in your home 24/7? Are you making sure no one is partaking of so much alcohol that they could die? Are you standing guard at the toilet making sure no child chokes on their own vomit? Are you stopping drunk kids with seriously impaired decision-making skills from having sex or taking other drugs that could kill them? To all of these questions I say probably not.
And for parents who are justifying social hosting with the “kids need to learn to drink before college” rationale please see all of the above and I have to ask do you apply that logic to other “could happen” college occurrences like sex? Are you actively encouraging your child to hone that behavior in your home and providing a space in which to freely do so with multiple friends and acquaintances?
How can mothers and fathers so thoroughly preoccupied, that it borders on a national psychosis (i.e. calling the police on kids walking home from school alone) with raising healthy, safe, at all cost, children suddenly surrender their common sense and abdicate all of their parenting power in regards to their teens drinking? Is it because it’s a heck of a lot harder than telling your kid they can’t have an Oreo?