Parents, Teens and Alcohol...A Dangerous Mix

Updated: May 15, 2019
If you're thinking about letting your teenager throw a party and serve alcohol, experts say, 'Think again.' Here's why.

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Parents Playing Cool

Parents, Teens and Alcohol...A Dangerous Mix

Mike and Molly throw the best keg parties in town. The beer flows freely as burly varsity football players collect car keys at the door. Teens mill around, shouting over the pounding music, hugging and "high-fiving" the couple. The problem? Mike and Molly graduated high school 25 years ago, and this is their 18-year-old son's summer beer bash.

"These parents think they should be nominated for 'Parents of the Year'.They regard themselves as enlightened crusaders for their teens. They walk the walk and talk the talk," explains Carleton Kendrick, family therapist. "They're so desperate to be considered cool by their kids that they believe the law doesn't apply to them. They think they're wiser and better than the parents who won't provide alcohol."

"Some parents seek the approval of their teens and want to be looked up to. But even if they just graduated high school, these kids aren't 21 yet and they're not supposed to be drinking, " laments Richard Yoast, director of the American Medical Association's office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. "It astounds me that parents think that as long as they are serving the alcohol, they can control their kids and other kids' actions."

When you add drinking to natural teenage curiosity and pleasure seeking, the results can range from lowered self-esteem of a girl who had sex with several guys at a party, throwing up all over someone's carpet and saying something regrettable, to tragedies like diving into a shallow pond, fighting and injuring or killing someone, Kendrick notes. "These parents know that kids are going to drink but they've decided to be the responsible ones and supervise their drinking. Why not pass out condoms and foam and say, 'You're going to do this anyway so why not here? Go have some safe sex and have fun'."