Parents should know better
What would you do if a friend was about to do something illegal? Would you try to stop them? Would you offer preemptive help, defiantly stand in their way or, depending on the perceived level of friendship, merely turn away and hope for the best?
Now take it a step further. Imagine that the friend was a fellow parent, and the illegal act involved their child.
Feeling obligated yet?
Now toss your own child into the mix, along with a few beers, a bottle of Jack and a subjectively safe location to drink them both. Keep in mind that the one being “subjective” here is your parent friend, not you.
Changes things a bit, doesn’t it? And I assume by now you have spotted the illegal act.
Completing the hypothetical situation, I will state the obvious: this is not hypothetical at all, and is occurring each week in Happy Valley.
What would, or perhaps, should, you do at this point? And by “you” I mean “we.”
Face it, local teenagers doing whatever it takes to get blitzed each weekend is nothing new. Come to think of it, I seem to recall that it “might” have even occurred back in the mid-’70s.
The weekly “blitzkrieg” happens year-round, and will continue until religious fanatics kill us all in a nuclear firestorm or Paris and Lindsay have epiphanies of emotional maturity (whichever happens first).
Sometimes it is at a super-double-secret camping spot on public land, but many times the drinkfest is allowed to occur on private land, i.e. a teenager’s house.
The parents in question will sometimes insist upon DDs (designated drivers) for each group. Other times they will take the car keys and insist all the kids spend the night. Still others, of course, are out of town and know nothing about it until they return home. And sometimes the parents, apparently, just don’t seem to give a damn either way.
Which kind of parent are you?
Believe me, I’m not trying to cast stones here, just voice the frustrations of many local parents who lay in bed at night with eyes wide open, worrying about the possibilities.
Will their kids be safe tonight? Will they drive drunk? Will they get in a car with a drunk driver? Who’s buying them the booze? Where are they getting the money? What about pot? What about meth?
Will my child become a statistic?
The hardest part is trying to figure out how to stop, or at least curb, the weekly BlitzFest. There has not been an American parent of a teenager for the last 50 years that hasn’t tried. An assumption on my part, sure, and yes I understand there are exceptions to every rule, yet I know that even the “bad” parents love their children.
When the cops try to stop one of these parties at a campground, the kids either scatter like ants or simply “wait it out,” knowing the punishment for coming home late is much less severe than home receiving a phone call from Mr. Officer.
But the parents allowing this to occur on their private property are a whole different ball game. Do they not realize the liability issues? All it takes is for one child to be hurt in any way that can be tied back to illegal activity occurring on their property, and all hell could break loose.
Their own child would suffer tremendously. Their entire family could be torn apart figuratively, financially, and permanently.
Their logic of “helping to keep the kids safe by providing a place to learn to drink responsibly” is perhaps well-intentioned, but as oxymoronically warped as keeping sex education out of schools for fear of teenagers discovering about sex (It’s cool! it’s fun! but don’t you dare think about doing it!).
Holding all self-righteousness in check, I am honestly asking Happy Valley parents to respond with their thoughts.
Many will quickly reply with, “I’d call the cops on the parents” or “I’d call the parents and let them know what I think!” but they would be missing the point. Some will claim their child does not drink or ever put themselves in such situations, but we’ll let those types continue with their delusions while the rest of us deal with reality.
Chaining teens to their bed each weekend will not work either.
The vast majority of teenagers are going to find a place, and a way, to drink, period. Telling them to stick with their friends and to look out for one another is a positive step on the maturity highway, but try using that logic when one of their friends dies on I-70.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a biweekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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