Next year my daughter will enter high school. It’s hard for me to believe that my baby girl is going to be a ninth grader. Moving from middle school to high school will be a huge transition for both of us. Before long, she well be driving, applying for colleges, and dating (eek!).
To prepare herself for high school, my daughter has been asking my wife and me questions about our high-school experiences. The other night she posed this question to us:
Let’s say that there is a circle with 10 rings. The center ring represents the popular kids – athletes, cheerleaders, etc. The 10th and outer ring represents the kids that go through high school without ever being known (ie Sue Heck from The Middle). In which circle would you have resided when you were in high school?
I knew that she was trying to gauge our high school coolness quotient to get an average of which circle she could expect to be in. My wife and I tried to convince here that the only thing that really mattered in high school was doing her best, being herself, and connecting with a group of close-knit friends. I’m not sure that she was buying it. Later on, she asked to see our high school year books.
I didn’t have a yearbook, but I did have a memory book that I used to record my experiences from senior year. I showed her my old report cards, photos of my friends, and other items that I had saved. I was having a fun time reminiscing until I reached the section on my prom night. She started reading what I had written aloud and I gasped when she got to the parts about my getting drunk. My first inclination was to close the book and send my daughter to her room, but I realized that this was an opportunity to have a conversation about alcohol and being responsible.
My night of drinking that started immediately after prom. My friend invited us to her house for cocktails. Her parents served us drinks and allowed us to hang out until the wee hours of the morning. Later, my friend and I went to Galveston to join some more friends for a beach party where were spent the weekend drinking excessively.
When I daughter finished reading the passage, she looked at me in horror.
“Daddy,” she said, “I can’t believe that you were drunk. You weren’t even old enough to drink.”
“You’re right,” I said. ” I wasn’t old enough to drink. That was irresponsible. I made several mistakes that night, but I want you to learn from them and make better choices.”
I went on to talk about peer pressure and how she will encounter situations where alcohol will be present during her high school career. I also discussed how alcohol affects men and women much differently. I finished with sharing a few tips on how to stand up to peer pressure even if it’s from the “cool” kids in the middle of the circle.
April is Alcohol Responsibility month and I have partnered with Talk Early to provide resources to help parents talk to their children about responsible alcohol usage. These conversations aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. Prom season is approaching and it’s a good time to talk to your high-school aged children about alcohol. But you don’t have to wait until your kids are in high school to start these conversations. The earlier you breech the subject, the better.