Parents rule their own roost about drinking
BY AMY DICKINSON
Thursday, December 27, 2012
1/08/13 at 8:19 AM
Dear Amy: My sister and her family are arriving soon from out of state to spend a week during the holiday. We don't see them often and always have fun. This family will be staying with our elderly mother who does not drink alcohol. Their two oldest children are in their very late teens (one will be turning 20 soon). Our son is 21.
We would like to invite the entire clan to our home for a day of fun (and to give mom a break!) I'm concerned my sister and her husband will want us to allow their oldest children to drink, which they sometimes permit at their own home. I'm opposed to this for a variety of reasons. While I feel I should not speak up about what goes on at our mother's home, I don't want our home to become the alternative "party central." Neither do I want to start a row with my sister and brother-in-law (who is a strong believer in his own parental rights). Our son was not permitted to drink in our home until he turned 21 last year.
Should I speak to my sister in advance about this? I'm afraid that bringing it up proactively will imply judgment about their parenting choices. And what can I say if they offer to serve their older children beer or drinks while visiting us? - Worried About Whining
Dear Worried: You are over-thinking this. It is not your business what these parents allow their kids to do when they're at home, but if any underage drinkers are offered alcohol in your home, you just have to say - to everyone - "I'm sorry, but we don't allow underage drinking here." It should not be a big deal.
If they think you're a prude or a hypocrite, so what? If alcohol is consumed in your home, you might be held legally responsible for any negative consequences. You don't need to make proclamations ahead of time. Any parent who believes strongly in "parental rights" would by necessity have to respect your parental right to control what happens in your own home.
And if this family can't manage a "day of fun" at your house without offering their kids alcohol, they have a problem. If these parents are determined to let their kids drink, they can take them elsewhere and take their chances.
Dear Amy: You recommended Narcotics Anonymous to the writer signing her letter "Wanting an Addiction-free Mama," whose mother was addicted to pot. I'd like to recommend Marijuana Anonymous instead. Pot addiction is specific, and this 12-step program literally saved my life. - Currently Sober
Dear Sober: Thank you. The Marijuana Anonymous web address is marijuana-anonymous.org.
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.