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Parents Need to be Parents

Posted Dec 10 2008 10:52am

In a couple of weeks, the graduation ceremonies will take place all over the country, and with those graduations come graduation parties. It’s happened before and it will happen again—somebody is going to get busted for underage drinking at a graduation party.

A few years ago there was one such graduation party going on, a real blow-out. Irritated neighbors called the police to complain about noise, kids passed out on the front lawn and the usual list of inappropriate behavior related to having too much to drink. The police responded, but did nothing, because they did not have the right to enter the home. The calls kept coming in. On a couple of visits no action was taken, but finally the police did do something and that’s when the trouble really began.

The police decided to issue a ticket to the parents of the teenage boy hosting the party. They bought the beer and they allowed the beer drinking party to take place in their home. The parents were not home during the party. The police responded to the neighbors’ calls and took action. How dare they! You would have thought all civil rights as we know them had been suspended. Why the police had no right to take such an action. After all, it was their house, their private property and what they do on their private property is nobody’s business. All the drinkers were under aged, the behavior in some cases was abhorrent, but the parents are not to blame. The police, now they are the ones who are out of line. Lawyers got called. Counter lawsuits were filed. They were ready to fight to the finish to defend their right to be idiots.

The parents were well-educated, upper middle class professionals. They lived in a large, expensive home in an upscale neighborhood. They indulged their children. The way they saw it, their son was graduating and deserved to have a party and they wanted to provide everything the boy wanted. He wanted beer. He got beer. If one of his friends comes to the party, has to much to drink and winds up urinating in the neighbor’s bushes, so what? It’s not their child. Some other parents can worry about it.

Parents need to be the adults. Just because “Little Johnny” is 18 does not mean he is an adult. The law says he is eligible to vote, but he can’t go into a bar. What were the parents thinking? Of course they will never accept responsibility, so they turn the tables on the police and blame them. Why, because they have the money to fight. They have been offended and want their day in court. The lawyer loves it, he gets a payday out of their terrible behavior. At any level, parties like this one are a bad idea. Kids are not equipped to make good decisions, especially when the beer is flowing and they get to do the first “adult” thing in their life. Attitudes toward this kind of beer party contribute to the binge drinking when the kids go off to college in the fall. Without any parental supervision, kids go nuts at school.

Adults are the ones who set the tone for the younger generations. Beer drinking at the ball game is as much a part of the culture as eating a hot dog. Beer drinking at backyard cook-outs is as common as the chicken on the grill. Where do kids get the idea that the only way to have a good time is to drink? Adults set the example. Parents who not only condone a bad idea, but go to extreme legal lengths to blame somebody else for their own mistakes are only perpetuating the problem. Common sense suggests you don’t give beer to a minor, even in your own backyard.

Ned Wicker is the addictions chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center.

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