A 14-year-old daughter openly drank her mother’s cocktail. The mother shrugged, the kid sips from her drinks, and said it was probably okay “as long as she’s doing it at home, and isn’t driving.” (She drives at 14!)
She asked me, “What do you do if you know your child is drinking?”
Sona Hovsepian, MSW, ASW, Coalition Board member:
As a parent, we are to model responsible behavior to our children and assist them in making positive decisions at various points in their development. It is not appropriate for the underage daughter to be drinking, regardless of the fact she’s at home and not in a car.
This may be a great time in your family to have a “teachable moment”and use this as an opportunity to discuss the effects of alcohol use at an early age and the various risks associated with that. As a parent, it is integral to provide the structure and boundaries in order to assist our youth in their growth and provide an environment where he/she can flourish and reach their fullest potential.
John Howell, a psychotheraptist/nutritionist in private practice in Glendale:
I would encourage the mom to let her daughter know how much she loves her and that she is terribly concerned about this underage drinking. Of course, this may be difficult for the mom since I assume she is also having the cocktail and is sending a mixed message to her daughter.
I would set clear expectations for changes in her behavior as well as firm consequences. She should set limits in the home, or seek outside help. Fourteen is a tough age. Becoming a teenager brings with it many developmental challenges, and it seems reasonable to say that this young lady is having trouble adapting. Finally, as a nutritionist, I wonder if she is not using the drinking to manage some underlying nutritional and/or biochemical imbalances. Overall, teenager alcohol and substance abuse is a tough issue, and I have nothing but compassion for the many families who struggle with this issue.
What’s your answer?