It is something I really struggle with, especially having teenagers myself.
And that is TEENS DRINKING, drinking alcohol. Starting to drink from such an early age as 13 or 14 years old.
They have the world at their feet and their whole adult lives ahead of them. I suppose the fear is that they get addicted to alcohol and then there is no hope for a bright future. I am the first to admit that I have also done some pretty stupid stuff during my teenage-years, but getting wasted at the tender age of 13 or 14?
According to a UNICEF report published last year it was more the norm than the exception for teenagers to drink alcohol here in Ireland. Yes, MORE THE NORM THAN THE EXCEPTION. The report actually said that “there is considerable evidence to say that drinking is a ‘taken-for-granted’ activity amongst Ireland’s younger population as such an overwhelming majority responded that they do drink alcohol”. That is shocking. Not only because research has shown that if we can get teenagers into their late teen years (16 years and up) without drinking alcohol, they have a much lower likelihood of problem drinking behaviour later in life, but because plain simply the waste of their lives.
I often hear about school friends who drink at parties, at discos, who are even drunk when they get to the party or disco, friends who have to help their drunk friends to the bathrooms and keep them upright….and so it goes on and on and on. And the next day it is one big laugh and boasting of how much each had to drink. It seems you are the exception if you don’t drink.
In an article where teenage girls were interviewed about their social life one 14-year old admitted “ that everybody drinks”. She added that their group of friends when going to a party would normally drink vodka in somebody’s house or on the bus and a few friends have actually had their stomachs pumped!!! “I am careful because my mum says if I ever have to get my stomach pumped I will never be allowed out again.” Stupid mum or poor mum? She is already one step further. This girl is only 14! It was very refreshing to read about the other girls who said they all took a pledge not to drink. “There is a lot of time to do that once we are over 18.”
I realise a lot of this is bravado.
I also realise it is tough on parents , because you also want your teen to have fun.
But I do think we owe it to our teenage-children to draw the line somewhere. We, the parents, have to set the rules. We know teenagers will always push to get their way. But it is no excuse for a parent to be unaware of their teens’ behaviour. We need to know what they are doing. We need to keep the communication channels open. It is up to us, we are the adults.
And in the end we want a bright future for each one of our teenagers. Let’s do it!