|A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As we talked further, I realized that I have shared some real life opinions on the topic of drugs and alcohol. When the boys were very little and riding the bus with me, I would make sure that they understood the likely reason why someone was being so strange, rude, or scary. I remember describing how using drugs and alcohol doesn't mean the person is bad but rather that we couldn't predict their behavior. I detailed how one of my favorite uncles had a drinking problem and how different he was sober vs. drunk. I've also come home and openly shared about my sadness for a resident at the shelter - a person who is funny and smart and kind but who can't get a decent job. He got involved with drugs when he was young (19) and a felony charge has followed him ever since. At age 48, a moment of poor judgement still defines his opportunities. They also see a bottle of wine on our counter on a daily basis. They know that there is a difference between drinking, being drunk, and being an alcoholic.
As I talked with my friend, I realized how I rarely (as in three times, at weddings) saw my parents drink. Alcohol was never a part of meals or celebrations. I saw abstinence as a model and I vaguely heard about alcoholics. I don't know if I would have made better choices in my late teens if the model in my home had been different. I do know that when I first started drinking, it was unhealthy. There were moments where my life could have been permanently damaged because of the choices I made and the situations I put myself in while "altered". It's not how I want things to be for my boys. Is it possible to prepare our teens for drinking in a safer way? Is there anything we can do to prevent the excess and experimentation and subsequent risk?
Is it enough to say, "It's illegal so I won't condone it in my house/presence?" We spend so much time teaching our kids about life, sharing skills, imparting values, and guiding their choices. It doesn't feel consistent to leave this part of their life to some fraternity or sports team. And yet, am I sending a message that the rules should be ignored if I allow for a drink at the dinner table? Am I assisting their entrance into adult activity before they are ready? Help me out here. What have you done? What are you planning to do? What do you wish someone had done for you? HELP!