When a high school senior or recent graduate approaches a parent to throw a keg party, it might be a tempting proposition. Parents who throw alcohol parties with their underaged teens mention some of the following reasons: 1) They’re going to drink anyhow, it may as well be where I can supervise them. 2) They’ll drink less with adult supervision, 3) It will help keep their friends safe, too, 4) I’ll feel better knowing what they’re doing, 5) They’re going to do this in college, they may as well have some experience doing it now, 6) It will strengthen our relationship because they’ll see how understanding I am, or 7) It will strengthen our relationship if I treat them like an adult.
This article will explain how each of those rationalizations is flawed and will argue against a parent ever providing alcohol for an underage party.
- They’re going to drink anyhow, it may as well be where I can supervise them. Although some teens will drink, even if you prohibit it, many will abstain from drinking if they know it will get them in trouble. To allow your children to have alcohol lets them know there will be no negative consequence from you for their illegal behavior. Additionally, is there more criminal activity you’d like for them to engage in, with your ‘supervision?’
- They’ll drink less with adult supervision. This isn’t even close to true. If you’re supplying the booze, they can get more of it. If they’re paying for it themselves, they will end up with less simply for not being able to afford it. Additionally, when do kids feel the most safe? When they’re with their parents, typically. So, with your supervision, your kids will probably feel more safe to engage in risky drinking behaviors they may be somewhat scared to try when the oldest person in the house is 17. We should not, as adults, be providing kids with a way to feel more comfortable drinking.
- It will help keep their friends safe, too. Again, not true. Although a parent-sponsored party in which the parent takes everyone’s car keys and requires everyone spend the night may save people from drunk driving accidents and consequences, it does, on the other hand, encourage kids to drink all night long, to the point of blacking out or passing out, and the supervising adult cannot possibly stay awake all night to supervise everyone who is there, so it is likely that lots of unprotected sex would also be occurring where it normally would not have been possible if everyone would have had to stay sober enough to drive home and get home at a reasonable hour.
- I’ll feel better knowing what they’re doing. This one may, in fact, be true, but it is a notion that focuses on the parent’s well-being, not on the child’s well-being. Further, no one should feel good knowing that their kid is doing illegal, dangerous things. That should worry a parent, not console him. And, as stated above, unless you have cameras in every room in the house and plan to stay up all night watching them, you won’t even actually know what the kids are doing anyhow.
- They’re going to do this in college, they may as well have some experience doing it now. We get better at anything we practice. So, if you want your kids to be really good drinkers, with high tolerance, and who are knowledgeable about a number of drinking games, then, by all means, have them practice when they are teens. However, if you’d rather they spend your money on textbooks and notebooks than on beer bongs and vodka, you will not want to be providing them with training in how to party before college.
- It will strengthen our relationship because they’ll see how understanding I am. Allowing your teen to party, or worse yet, partying with them, may be a way to temporarily become friends with your teen, but the friendship only lasts for the duration of the party. The next day, you again become a pathetic old person who doesn’t have any friends his own age and who has to hang out with a bunch of kids. You remain this hideous beast until next time they need beer, and then you’re their friend again. Lots of luck getting them to clean their room or take out the garbage, friend.
- It will strengthen our relationship if I treat them like an adult. It only strengthens the relationship if you actually do treat them like an adult. Adults can go get their own beer and hold their own parties and take the consequences of their actions. Adults do not need Mommy and Daddy to supervise their parties. When adults break the law, there are adult consequences. When you let your teen know that you expect them to operate at the maturity level of an adult, they will often begin to do so, and adults know that it is totally inappropriate to have a keg party with underaged drinkers.