October 27, 2012

Old Enough

I'm reading a book that says parents can't drink alcohol and still expect their teenagers not to drink alcohol AND smoke pot (because pot is reportedly less dangerous than alcohol).

I was all, "Oh, crap," and started composing a memo to Paul ("To: Paul. Re: Alcohol. Memo: GET READY TO TOTAL THAT TEE, BABY"). Then tonight as I was folding laundry and thinking about how I couldn't expect my teenager not to drink if _I_ continued to drink the gin-and-seltzer I was sipping, I had this thought: "Wait. Yes I CAN expect that."

Because otherwise, I would also need to give up driving: I can't reasonably expect my un-driver's-licensed teenager not to drive if I'M going to drive. And I would need to stop having sex, because otherwise how can I possibly suggest to my child that he or she not have sex, if they know from the number of children in this house that _I_ must have done it at some point? I can't stay up until 10:00 or 10:30 anymore; I'll need to go to bed at the kids' bedtime. And I will need to stop using matches, because otherwise I'm practically INVITING them with my own match-usage! And I can't SWEAR, certainly, and still expect THEM not to! And so on.

It's silly to think that it's hypocritical to do grown-up things while expecting our children NOT to do grown-up things. The message isn't "THESE THINGS ARE EVIL!! NEVER DO THEM!!!," it's only, "Wait until you're old enough."

31 comments:

Moderndayhermit said...

I SO agree. When my son would ask why I could say "bad words" and he couldn't I simply let him know that when he's an adult he can swear all his little heart desires.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I've always told my kids there are grown up drinks, grown up words & grown up activities. I don't play on the slide at the park because that is a kid activity & I am a grown up (also my butt is too big to slide down it but that is neither here nor there).
I think it's more part of that "Never say no to your kids, only positive reinforcement" mindset.
Sorry. Something things are just 'NO', at least for now.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Also, my parents never drank in front of me when I was a kid and yet I not only drank, I smoked pot and I knew kids who did crack & their parents also didn't drink. So there you go.

neal said...

I consider it my duty to do things I don't want my daughter doing, so that she can use me as a negative example.

"See what happens when you stuff your face with junk food?! It makes you curl up on the ground and moan because you don't have any self-control and you're gonna get diabetes. Ohhhh, it hurts. Kill me now."

Erica said...

My dad and step-mom drink far more than I ever did. I cant drink at all anymore, and they're "a couple of beers/glasses of wine in the evenings" people.

On the other hand, my husband's parents don't drink and really never have and he was a regular drinking machine while in the Navy. He still drinks occasionally, which is much more than his parents do.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I think that book's theory is complete bullshit.

Erica said...

Oh, and we both smoked pot and I know for certain that none of our parents did. So there.

swimmermom said...

Not only do I think it's okay to drink around my kids, I think that it is actually GOOD. Not only for my mood (heh), but for them. I am SURE I've read that kids who grow up with healthy, non-abusive adult drinking in the home are LESS likely to abuse substances. They learn in the most powerful way, through modeling, how alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation.

I think I am being honest with myself that I'm not just arguing this to justify my one nightly glass of wine.

Katie said...

It is really really (really) important to me, as the daughter of an alcoholic (with 22 years of sobriety) to model responsible behavior for my kids. That includes them seeing me drink a glass of wine or a beer every few months.

Also, my husband smoked all kiiiinds of pot all the way back in junior high (sorry if that frightens you!) and his mother was as sober as sober could be. I did not, and I also didn't drink nearly as much as my peers.

That book is bullfeces.

Kristin H said...

I do not agree with the book at all. I was thinking of examples like you used (sex, driving)...and then you used those examples. And don't even get me started on pot. Alcohol is legal; pot is not. When that changes, we can talk about how dangerous one is over the other. (Glares at children.)

Erica said...

I don't think I am ever going to read that book.

Lauren said...

When I went to college my new friends made fun of me because I took vegetables at dinner and didn't eat dessert first. I did it because that's what I saw at home. For the same reason, I drank pretty responsibly (if not legally).

I think it's better to model how we make our adult choices so our kids can learn by example. I don't want my children to be the kids at college who eat only cocoa puffs and drink until they fall down the stairs!

Bibliomama said...

The book looks interesting, actually. But on that point I'm completely with you, not with him. Not sure how he thought he was going to sell that one.

Patty said...

I think with all of your examples, the key is to remind kids that their brains aren't fully developed yet and they haven't had the life experiences that would let them make good choices in those areas, so they aren't permitted to do so... and, just because adults and kids make poor choices that way (my sister and cousin were 7 when they drove my aunt's car.. and lucky they didn't crash), doesn't mean that they have to make the same poor choices.

I also tell the 11 year old that my job is to keep him safe until he can do it for himself... which may be when he turns 40... we'll see :).

Cayt said...

My parents drink infrequently and responsibly. I went through a brief period of drinking responsibly (only at parties) and now I don't drink (bad medication interactions) and I don't miss it at all. However. Neither of my parents knit that much, and I do not knit responsibly. I knit irresponsibly. So if you don't want your kids to spend all their free time knitting, you need to teach them to knit responsibly.

Becky said...

Honestly? I think 90% of kid's will engage in whatever behavior their friends are engaging in (at least during their teenage years) regardless of the kind of example parents set for their kids. Bigger Issues regarding how you choose to raise you children may influence what KINDS of friends they end up running around with, but if you're 14 and your friends are sipping Boone's Farm in someone's basement, you're more than likely to join in.

That being said, I think parents' views alcohol can have a huge impact on how you interact with alcohol as an adult. I grew up considering alcohol to be a FOOD, not a drug to be abused, or a poison to be avoided, so booze and I have always had a healthy, loving relationship. I mean, we're doing the long-distance thing now that I'm pregnant, but we'll resume relations soon enough.

Misty said...

Duh, of course you are right.

What a stupid idea. One would have to be seriously lacking critical thinking skills to buy that one.

Joanne said...

Oh good LORD I agree. I used to work in a private K-8 school and one of the uniform rules was that the students couldn't wear open toed shoes. The headmaster of the school used to tell the teachers and staff that WE couldn't wear them either, because if we expected the students to adhere to the rules, why wouldn't we? And I would think, I'm not a student here! I'm not a CHILD! It drives me bananas when we have to pretend that children are the same as adults. I remember reading one time that Julia Roberts really VALUED her children's opinions, and they were like three and five years old or something. I remember thinking what an idiot she must be.

G said...

YES! Exactly. There are things that grown-ups do that children can do with they become grownups. Drinking alcohol is one of those things.

And now is when we model for children that it is possible to drink alcohol for a reason other than "to get drunk".

(When I have a new foster placement, I abstain from drinking at all for a few weeks and then from drinking where they can see me for a few more weeks, because I don't know what they have seen happen in the past when a grownup drinks...I think that's one of those exceptions that really doesn't apply when you're talking about children that have only ever lived with you!)

Nik-Nak said...

I'm on the fence with this one. I tend to live by the "Children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate " quote when it comes to my kid. Of course I'm no where near perfect but I realized a while ago she wasn't old enough to understand the why can you but I can't thing.

Mrs. Irritation said...

My neighbor drinks nightly. Not that she's a drunk but she drinks quite a bit. They see her drink, responsibly and otherwise, yet we are not allowed to ever use the word "drunk" in front of the kids b/c it might give them bad ideas. HUH???!

Raisin4Cookies said...

All I can say is, I wish I could drink alcohol while folding laundry. I would probably like doing it more.

Shari said...

I think it is much better to model RESPONSIBLE drinking than to not drink at all. A glass of wine with dinner, maybe a couple at a party - I want my kids to know what it SHOULD look like.

shin ae said...

My comment is the same as Misty's.

The author sounds to me like one of those people who blames the parents for everything and hisses, "Control your children," at people when their two year olds are acting up in public.

Jill said...

My parents drank (drink) a LOT. We always joke that they are functioning alcoholics, but there was always beer and alcohol around when I was growing up. Neither my brother nor I drank AT ALL in high school. I think we just saw my parents drink and act dumb all the time that it didn't seem cool. And none of my friends drank, so we just never even thought to.
That said, once we both got to college all bets were off. And now, in our 30s, family get togethers are total booze fests. Less for me, since I seem to be constantly either pregnant or nursing, but part of the fun of hanging out with my family is going to bars or trying new wines or drinking during the day just because we're all together so it feels like vacation. I don't plan to stop drinking when my kids become teenagers, but I think we will also model responsible drinking (no driving, etc) and stress that legality is the key here.

Maggie said...

I agree with everyone else here, I think that's a load of bunk. There are tons of things we do as adults that are not suitable for children for a variety of reasons. Part of growing up has to be learning how to handle choices and challenges. If no reasonable model of drinking is ever presented, how is a kid supposed to figure out how to drink responsibly? Much like trying for the most part to model reasonable driving and eating.

cakeburnette said...

There is a certain...ahem...we'll call it "unenlightened"...group of religious fanatics who actually think drinking alcoholic beverages IS evil. They are the people who came up with this absolutely ridiculous concept, I bet.

artemisia said...

Amen! You are the parents and the grown ups. You've always been excellent at understanding the different between and adult parent and friend.

Bailey said...

It seems like there are a lot of parenting decisions leading up to a point where a teenager expects that the rules apply to both himself and to his parents equally. Or that he has any "right" to expect such "fairness." And those are not decisions I intend to make (said the mother who clearly knows NOTHING yet, my kid is only five, please don't throw tomatoes at me).

Alice said...

OMG this could go on and on. I should never use the stove if I don't want my toddler to use it? I should never go to work if I don't want my children to become child laborers??

CARRIE said...

I'm sure someone said this, but I think it is far more important for a child to see his/her parent do things responsibly. How sad for the kids who see their parents get hammered (like my niece...but that is a whole other ball of wax).

Lora said...

We use that book as a resource for work, and ever since reading that part I've been dwelling on it. I don't know how I feel. We still drink in front of our son, but we don't get drunk

I think that's a good compromise