Q: I have a very interesting problem, and I am not sure how to handle it. My 15-year-old honor student, an all around good kid, recently asked her father and me if we would allow her to get drunk in our home. She says she wants to know what it feels like. After some questioning, we discovered that several of her friends were allowed to do this in their homes and have told her how great it was. Now she wants to try it as well. We’re thinking that if we let her do it, she’ll be less likely to drink irresponsibly later because it will no longer be a big deal. What should we tell her?
A: I’m at a loss as to why you think letting your daughter drink to the point of drunkenness in your home will make it less likely that she will drink outside of your home. You obviously didn’t hear what she said. Her friends told her getting bombed was great! They loved it! Do you think those kids aren’t going to get bombed again?
Taking another example: Do you think that if you permitted your daughter to have sex upstairs in her bedroom with her boyfriend while you were downstairs reading or watching television that she would be less likely to become sexually active? Hello?
Since I suppose I really need to tell you what to tell your daughter, here goes: “It is against the law for minors to consume alcoholic beverages, and it is against the law for adults to provide alcoholic beverages to children. We pride ourselves on being good, law-abiding citizens, so we will not give you permission to get drunk in our home.
“Furthermore, since you seem to have some fascination with this as well as friends who seem fascinated with this, we need to tell you that getting a driver’s license depends on our not having any reason to suspect that if you are behind the wheel of an automobile, you might constitute a danger to other good citizens of this community. Do you have any questions, sweet love of our lives?”
Q: Last year, our 19-year-old daughter became involved with a 35-year-old man who is divorced and has young children. We think he’s very manipulative and is taking advantage of our daughter’s innocence, but she is convinced she’s in love. She will be leaving for college in the fall, having chosen one that is only two hours away. We suspect her choice was motivated in large part by the fact he will be relatively close.
He has been in our home, and we have treated him politely, but he won’t come back because he apparently feels uncomfortable. Do we have any authority over a college student, and if so what would it be? Or should we just keep our mouths shut?
A: Any attempt to run her life—love life included—will probably backfire. However, you do have the option of informing her that you will not pay for college while she is carrying on with a 35-year-old divorcee with children, that the two situations are incompatible. Furthermore, you can tell her that living in your home is not compatible with her carrying on with a 35-year-old man either, in which case, and until she gets her priorities in order, she needs to get a job, find an apartment, and move out.
At that point, your job is to keep your mouth shut and keep your word.
Family psychologist John Rosemond is
the director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, North
Carolina. For information about his talks and workshops, contact
Elizabeth Stevens at 919-403-8712.