Memorial Day is only one week away, and the three day weekend is traditionally a time for celebrations: barbeques, lounging in the backyard, and perhaps opening the pool for the season. And for many parents, Memorial Day could be a time to loosen up, bend the rules, and let an underage child drink an alcoholic beverage.
Besides, Is it really a big deal to let my 18 year old drink? After all, we're at home.
But according to Dr. Vivian Faden in a CNN article, "If parents have a liberal idea about alcohol, kids may get the wrong message...Underage drinking can lead to injuries, fatal car accidents, risky sexual behavior, and there's also potential risk to the developing brain."
If parents have a liberal idea about alcohol, kids may get the wrong message.
Many parents think about allowing their underage children to have a celebratory drink. But experts say that this is asking for trouble: underage drinking can lead to brain effects, liver effects, and growth and endocrine effects according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additionally, individuals who begin drinking at an early age run a higher risk of developing serious alcohol problems and addiction later in life.
Making up "house rules" and serving alcohol to underage youth and young adults in your home could not only lead to trouble for those young people, but also for yourself as a parent or provider. All states prohibit providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. It doesn't matter if it is being sold, given, provided, or supplied--these actions are punishable by law. And "supplying" might be different than a person would assume: allowing a person under 21 to be in a home where alcohol is stored without restricted access qualifies as "supplying" to minors.
So, what should parents do?
Talk to your kids.
It's easy to say "don't drink and drive," but often, the conversation stops there. Find out if the young people in your life know the harmful effects alcohol can have on the brain. Ask them if they know what binge drinking is, and be honest with them about the risks.
This Memorial Day, choose to say "no" to serving alcohol to those who are underage, and instead, have a candid conversation with your child.
Video Credit: Missouri Safe and Sober
Multiple Authors including coalition staff, board members, and coalition members contribute to this page.