Q. Teen Drinking

Q.  I'm a parent of teens and often wonder how come so many parents let their children drink at such a young age?  Any insights?

A. By asking this question I guess you are aware of some situations in which parents do in fact permit their children to drink while underage. Hopefully this is more of an exception than a norm. And since every situation may be different, let me address it in a more general way and offer one possible answer to your question.

First of all, I think that, in our current day and age, parenting has many challenges. There are many temptations out there for young people, as well as for adults, that are hard to deal with. Parents will not only have to deal with their own personal struggles and temptations, but they will also have to help their children with their challenges and temptations.

Regarding alcohol, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with drinking it. Jesus drank and even went so far as to change water into wine for His first miracle. And, of course, He used wine as the substance that was changed into His Precious Blood at the Last Supper. Furthermore, there are other references to wine in the Scriptures that make it clear that drinking alcohol is fine. However, two common problems that can come up with alcohol are drinking in excess and drinking under age.

Drinking in excess is certainly a sin for anyone because it’s an abuse of something good that God gave us. And if you’ve ever seen someone who was drunk, it’s clear that they are not able to think straight and act in a healthy way. Too much alcohol will always interfere with our ability to hear God’s Voice and love others the way we are called.

But your question has to do with parents letting their children drink who are underage. This brings up a number of other problems. First of all, we, as citizens of this country, or of any country, have a moral obligation to respect and obey all laws that are just. And it seems to me that it is a good thing for our states to limit the freedom to drink to those who are over 21. Why? Because I’m sure that, by simply attending a teenage drinking party, you can quickly conclude that alcohol can easily make things get out of hand. Furthermore, because this law is just, not only are minors morally obligated to follow it but parents are obligated to follow it in regards to their children also.

The reasons that parents may let their children drink can vary. But perhaps one of the most common reasons is because they want their children to “like” them. We all want to be liked, but sometimes those in authority must make decision that are not always popular. As I said above, I’m sure it’s difficult to be a parents at times. And I’m sure that all parents find it difficult when they have to say “no” to their children. This may cause their children to get upset with them and not understand them. But it is very important for parents to do what’s right rather than what is easiest. Even if this means they are misunderstood by their children or seen as “old fashioned.”

Perhaps you’re asking this question because you have not allowed your teen to drink as a minor. My encouragement is to simply know and believe that you're making the right decision.