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Time for Some Emotional Spring Cleaning?Marybeth Bock, MPH
When it comes to the subject of underage drinking I have always taken a no-nonsense stance. My sons were well aware of my feelings, if not thrilled by what they considered my provincial way of thinking.
When my oldest son turned 17 he invited a few friends over to hang out and play ping-pong in the basement. It turned out that ping-pong was not the only type of pong they had in mind. When I heard several cars pull up in front of our house and yet did not hear anyone come in the front door I surmised he was having friends sneak in through the basement door.
Before the first beer can was popped open, I was downstairs, asking everyone to leave. I was furious with my son and explained the possible ramifications of his actions. Besides breaking house rules, by serving alcohol to his friends our son could've gotten us in big trouble. Fast forward a few years and he is a lawyer, like his father. Looking back at that time, I expect he sees things differently. A lot can be at stake.
Despite the fact that the legal drinking age is 21, alcohol is a big part of the social scene on many if not most campuses. When our children are away at college we have little influence over what they do, and when they come home on breaks after having autonomy at school it becomes even harder to control and monitor their behavior. I found that the best course of action was to continue to let my sons know what I expected from them when they were home and to keep the lines of communication between us open. Although I was not naive enough to think they were always listening to me, I felt on some level they got the message and were mostly respectful in the way they conducted themselves.
This article in the Greenwich Free Press is an excellent way to initiate a discussion with your sons and daughters when they are home on break; it explains the Social Host Law and provides tips for students and parents regarding alcohol and drug use. The goal is to promote having fun in a responsible manner.
Be sure to also read How to Talk to Your Student About Responsible Drinking.