This morning I read an open letter from a mom to her teenage son. The child was starting high school and she was expressing her concerns about the future problems her child would be facing as an average American teenager.Link to article: (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-radigan/an-open-letter-to-my-teenage-son-about-drinking_b_5609429.html) Namely she discussed drinking alcohol and having sex. She described the behaviors she desires her child to adhere to. She set limits. She made it clear she and his father would not tolerate underage drinking and she would not encourage it. She advised she would not let him drink in their presence. She did affirm that when he turns twenty one he would be welcomed to sit down and have a beer with she and his father. She drew a hard line. She outlined what would happen if he failed to adhere to the expected standard they have set forth. However, after she set the framework for how this issue was to be treated , she made it clear that her son could always come to her or his father. She needed him to know if he was out drunk that he should always call her so she can go get him. The mother stated “I would rather us bring you home drunk than you not come home at all”. Personally, I loved this article because the parents set the standard and told her child what the repercussions would be if the standard was not met. Many of people in the comment section felt as if the mother was being unfair or had an archaic attitude when it comes to drinking. I had a couple of thoughts about their comments. 1) The beliefs she teaches her children are her business. She has the right to set a standard for her child and the right to expect her child will follow that standard. 2) Underage drinking is a crime. To allow your underage child to drink in your presences does much more than just break the “Aiding and abetting underage drinking law”. Obviously, you are breaking a law by giving your child alcohol. However, you are teaching your child that respect for authority isn’t important. Also, you are acting as your child’s friend. Many parenting problems exist because parents attempt to be buddies with their child. My parents taught me and my siblings it wasn’t their job to be my friend but my parents. They told me you aren’t always going to like us, or won’t always agree with and understand why we do the things we do. Their job was to teach us boundaries. They taught us respect for authority, others and most importantly ourselves. Parents have to be the guiding force in their children’s lives. They have to set boundaries and enforce a sense of right and wrong. They should teach their children to follow the laws. The mother in the article felt that it was not in her child’s best interest to drink alcohol. She obviously did not buy into the mantra that teens will be teens. Some people give children a pass. They affirm that they are young and stupid so its a given they will experiment with all sorts of things. I simply do not buy it. To put it bluntly, that is a cop out and I don’t like it. When you make the statement “teens will be teens” you are alleviating any and all responsibility they have in the situation. Whether we are discussing sex, alcohol, or other potentially dangerous behavior we have to remember it is a behavior. A choice. The teen can decide whether they participate or not. I realize I described a Utopian society. In a perfect world teenagers would be submissive. There are a few things that parents can do that would reinforce that behavior in the hopes their child may be the one that says “No” to drinking underage, having sex, or partaking in drugs. 1) Be present in your child’s life. Sounds easy enough but you have to check in with your kid daily. Find out whats going on in their life. Who their friends are and where they are going. 2) Be an example. Don’t recount your offenses to your children. The only thing they will understand is that dear o’le dad did that stuff and he is here to tell the tale. This won’t make you a hypocrite. It will help your children not make the mistakes you made. 3) Be persistent with disciplining your child. Start from a young age and make it clear that there are consequences for your actions. 4) Give them input. Let them have a chance to voice their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. Let them have the ability to feel as if they are being heard. You are training them for adulthood. In adulthood you do get to “talk back”. Otherwise you are teaching your child to roll over. Let them logically formulate arguments so they aren’t drones just being told what to do 5) Always have a discussion about why the teenager cannot be involved in the behavior you have deemed undesirable. The one liner “because I said so” is often what can drive a child to be rebellious. If you talk with the teenager and give a reasonable explanation as to why they cannot do something they may respond better. Those that know me personally know that I do not have children. Uh-oh! I hope everything you just read hasn’t been just discounted. No, I do not have children. However, if and when I do the above list will reflect my beliefs on parenting. I understand that some of them may change as I grow but they are my current beliefs. I truly believe in accountability and responsibility. I believe everyone has to face the consequences for their actions. I believe when a rule has been set it should be followed. Especially those that are not unreasonable. I fear in our culture we have turned to the belief that rules and regulations are optional. Many folks believe some rules are foolish so they shouldn’t have to follow them. If that is the case, fine but do not be surprised when you are forced to face consequences. I cannot understand folks who purposely infringe upon laws and the whine because they face punishment. Ultimately, I believe teenagers should respect their parents. It is irrelevant if they do not agree with the rules. Respect your parents and follow them. Personally, I did not drink underage. In fact, I have never consumed alcohol. I have no desire to. Believe me I have been asked a million times. When I was under twenty one it was because I was under the legal age to drink. Currently, I just have no desire to. Honestly it freaks people out and I’ve often thought about writing a blog about society and not drinking. Trust me, people react to a non-drinking person as they would a Bigfoot sighting. I still may write that blog. My parent’s taught me to respect authority. Even if I did not agree with their rules I respected them. Mostly. I understood that they wanted what was best for me and were trying to save me heart ache. What they did for me the most though was teach me to be strong in my convictions. They instilled a strong sense of accountability and responsibility in me. I am glad I listened. This in itself is humbling.