I have always been a super responsible person.
Like when it really matters. Maybe not day-to-day-getting-basic-things-that-can-technically-wait done responsible. But like, live-life-like-an-adult-a-good-percentage-of-the-time-and-keep-other-people-alive-simultaneously responsible.
My mom made sure of it and encouraged me to be a person others could count on.
So, I was an excellent student –As, As, and more As. I was an honest daughter –always forthcoming about my whereabouts (basically always, just maybe that once when I went to a party at Jamal’s house even though I said we were going to the teen center for a dance).
I never did drugs, I wasn’t promiscuous, and even when it came to drinking, I was a light weight.
But it did happen.
Even when I was underage.
I know, Mom. Please turn down your outrage.
We got through it and we are both better people because of it, I’m pretty sure.
Anyway, underage drinking is a reality of today’s youth too. I’m not saying they all do it, I’m saying they all have the opportunity to do it.
I had countless opportunities, most notably those that came when I left home and went to college at the age of 18.
I lived in the dorms, on a sizeable college campus with plenty of nighttime activities nearby. Getting a free drink at a local bar (or in a local dorm room) was easier than getting a free taco (seriously, have you ever had a dude at a bar offer to buy you a taco? Personally I think they would be more successful, but that’s just me.).
But even as I was tossing back the wine coolers in the campus hotspot, I never got behind the wheel of a car, I never drank so much I couldn’t make good decisions (I did fall off of a stage I was dancing on once but, based on what I know about myself, I firmly believe that was due more to clumsiness than inebriation as I’ve fallen off of plenty of things while stone cold sober), I never engaged in any unsafe behavior, and I never got into any trouble.
I guess you could say I was responsible even with my illegal activity!
See, Mom? All good!
April is Alcohol Responsibility month and it also marks the 25 year anniversary of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, an organization, funded by distillers, that seeks to encourage responsible drinking practices, educate youth about the dangers of underage drinking, and promote healthy lifestyle choices for young people and their parents. They recently launched their Starts with Me campaign to spark conversation about alcohol responsibility.
This is what that looks like in my house.
Underage Drinking: 10 Things I Want My Sons to Know About Responsible Drinking
1. Drinking can be done responsibly. But, part of being responsible involves following the law and the law says you can’t drink legally until you’re 21. I want you to be a responsible drinker if you choose to be one at all. Underage drinking is not responsible.
2. All people who enjoy alcohol don’t become alcoholics. I don’t want them to be fearful about consuming alcoholic beverages and I think giving them a healthy understanding of how to live a responsible adult lifestyle is more beneficial than trying to scare them away.
3. I think it’s totally fine for your father and I to drink in front of you. It’s how you learn to drink responsibly. Us having a beer or a glass of wine from time to time without getting wasted or driving in a car or getting into a fight shows you how responsible adults enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly.
4. I do not want you to participate in underage drinking. It is unsafe for so many reasons and I am strongly discouraging that behavior. And, should you defy me in this, there will be consequences.
5. The consequences will be reasonable. I’m not going to kill you. I’m not a monster. We will have a discussion, I will tell you I’m disappointed, we both may cry. But we will survive.
6. You can always call me. If things get scary or out of hand. I am who you should call. Every time. Always. And that includes if someone you’re with is doing it. I’m not interested in getting your friends in trouble, I am interested in saving your life and making sure you get the opportunity to make a better choice next time.
7. Drinking and driving is the worst. Seriously, people try to downplay it and act like everyone does it, but that is false. Everyone doesn’t do it. Only people who are irresponsible, idiotic, and selfish do it.
8. If you drink before you’re 21 I will be disappointed. If you you drink and then get in your car to drive at any point in your life I will be seriously freaking mad. Like next level. Like haunt your dreams. Like real talk, you can’t even think about it right now because the mad me I will be in that situation is too scary for your teen brain to even remotely comprehend at this stage in your life.
9. Not drinking is okay too. Even when you’re a 30-something year old mom and all of the other moms are downing wine like it’s water (although, switch that to 30-something year old dad and beer if you want, because based on what I know about you now, you’re unlikely to be a mom in the future). I don’t often drink. I know I get side eyes everywhere I go because I ask for water or Diet Coke at open bars. I’m not pregnant, I’m not a recovering alcoholic, I just don’t like the taste of any alcoholic beverages enough to consume them consistently. So, two glasses of wine give me a headache, and two beers make me barf, and two shots have me dancing topless on the bar in my neighborhood. No one wants that. Life is better this way.
10. I expect you to make some mistakes. If you give me the chance, I will forgive you when you do. Every time.
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation that I was compensated for. All opinions are my own.