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Should I allow my teen to drink with supervision?

Question

In a few months, my amazing daughter will be going away to college where she will be essentially making all of her own decisions.

She wants to have a graduation party at our house but only if we allow her friends to drink a moderate amount of alcohol. These are great kids, and we would get permission from their parents beforehand. My daughter’s party is resting on your answer.

Answer

Cancel the party. This is a really dumb idea and you should be disappointed that your “amazing” daughter is trying to blackmail you. There are significant legal issues with serving alcohol to underage kids and this is a terrible example to set for her and her friends. There is also a serious problem if you have raised a daughter who can only enjoy herself if alcohol is served at a party.

Question

My husband is a great dad to our three sons, except when he has been drinking. He has had this problem since I met him 15 years ago and will not go for help.  Now that our boys are getting older, most of my friends are telling me that I should leave my husband for the sake of the kids. I think it’s really important for my boys to have a father in the home even if he has a problem. Who’s right?

Answer

When it comes to the children, there are two important considerations. First, are the boys safe? Does he drive with the kids in the car after he has been drinking?  Are the children at risk for being abused by your husband after a drinking binge?  Is there a lot of screaming and yelling going on in the home that creates an environment of emotional abuse?

Second, please realize that kids growing with an alcoholic parent are at a greater risk for all kinds of emotional and behavioral problems. Children of alcoholic parents are more apt to experience feelings of guilt, anxiety, embarrassment, confusion, anger, depression, and problems with close relationships, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

This is a life altering decision. Get some professional help to assist you in making this tough decision.

Question

My doctor wants to put my 14-year-old son on medication for anxiety but I’m very concerned about the long term effects of medicine. My son needs help but does this mean he has to take drugs for the rest of his life?

Answer

While medication can be very helpful in managing anxiety, your son needs to learn other ways to deal with these feelings. Speak with your doctor, and ask for a referral to a mental health professional with experience in cognitive behavioral therapy. Unless your son is in a crisis, I generally do not recommend medication without his active involvement in therapy.

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