Q. I have an interesting problem and I am not sure how to handle it. My 15-year-old honor student, an all-around good kid, recently asked her father and me if we would allow her to get drunk in our home. She says she wants to know what it feels like. After some questioning, we discovered that several of her friends were allowed to do this in their homes and have told her how great it was. Now she wants to try it as well. We're thinking that if we let her do it, she'll be less likely to drink irresponsibly later because it will no longer be a big deal. What should we tell her?
A. Huh? This is an "interesting" problem? I'm sorry, but I'm at a loss as to why you think letting your daughter drink to the point of drunkenness in your home will make it less likely that she will drink outside of your home.
You obviously didn't hear what your daughter said. Her friends told her getting bombed was great! They loved it! Do you think those kids aren't going to get bombed again? Taking another example: Do you think that if you permitted your daughter have sex upstairs, in her bedroom, while you were downstairs reading or watching television, that she would be less likely to become sexually active? Hello?
Since I suppose I really need to tell you what to tell your daughter, here goes: "It is against the law for minors to consume alcoholic beverages, and it is against the law for adults to provide alcoholic beverages to children. We pride ourselves on being good, law-abiding citizens, so we will not give you permission to get drunk in our home. Furthermore, since you seem to have some fascination with this as well as friends who seem fascinated with this, we need to tell you that getting a driver's license depends on us not having any reason to suspect that if you are behind the wheel of an automobile, you might constitute a danger to other good citizens of this community. Do you have any questions, sweet love of our lives?"
Q. Last year, our 19-year-old daughter became involved with a 35-year-old man who is divorced and has young children. We think he's very manipulative and is taking advantage of our daughter's innocence, but she is convinced she's in love. She will be leaving for college in the fall, having chosen one that is only two hours away. We suspect her choice was motivated in large part by the fact he will be relatively close.
He has been in our home, and we have treated him politely, but he won't come back because he apparently feels uncomfortable. Do we have any authority over a college student and if so what would it be? Or should we just keep our mouths shut?
A. Any attempt to run her life -- love life included -- will probably backfire, but you have the option of informing her that you will not pay for college while she is carrying on with a 35-year-old divorced man with children. Furthermore, that living in your home and carrying on with a 35-year-old man are not compatible either, in which case, and until she gets her priorities in order, she needs to get a job, find an apartment, and move out.
At that point, your job is to keep your mouth shut and keep your word.
XJohn Rosemond is a family psychologist. Questions of general interest may be sent to him at Affirmative Parenting, 1020 East 86th Street, Suite 26B, Indianapolis, Ind. 46240 and at his Web site: http://www.rosemond.com/.