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Modeling responsible drinking, or contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

Hi Mark

Finding your website and going through your program has brought a great sense of relief to me and my husband. I have just finished Session 4 and have already implemented several strategies. Our just turned 16 year old son S___ has been an "intense" kid pretty much all his life. We love him dearly however he has been very stressful to raise with many angry outbursts. He has a 12 year old brother who is a lot calmer and easier.

Our current issue with him is that he has recently become friends with a new group of teenagers in the year above him at school. The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18, and these 16-17 year olds have regular parties with lots of alcohol. So far he has been to one where he drank one beer, then said no when offered more. I believe him as when he came home he didn't appear to be at all drunk, also he has always thought for himself and seems a little less subject to peer pressure than others his age. Now he has been invited to another party where we don't know the teenagers or their parents. It concerns me that we have no phone numbers for any of these people. When he was younger it was easy to meet his friends' parents, now he doesn't want us to be involved at all and is being quite verbally aggressive about wanting to go and telling us it's nothing to do with us. I am planning to implement the 'Art of Saying Yes' with the condition that he brings a close friend of his with him and brings non-alcoholic drinks. We have agreed to a rule that one beer is okay (previously he has never drunk alcohol).

Do you have any ideas for us with this issue?



Hi M.,

Re: We have agreed to a rule that one beer is okay (previously he has never drunk alcohol). Do you have any ideas for us with this issue?

Well, one can make a good argument on either side of the fence:

1. Good idea. You will be modeling responsible drinking...


2. Bad idea. You will contributing to the delinquency of a minor...

Weighing-in the fact that the legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18, I would say that this issue falls into a gray area (i.e., there is not just one right way to handle this).

I think this should be your call -- you decide which way you want to go, then do an assessment after the fact to see if it was a good decision. (However, if alcoholism runs in the family, I would say to strongly discourage drinking -- and educate your son regarding the special risks that exist for him having a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.)

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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