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 the norm. And since every situation might be different, let me address it in a more general way and offer one possible answer to your question.
First of all, in our 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 come up with alcohol are drinking to excess and drinking while underage.
Drinking in excess is a sin for anyone because it’s an abuse of something good that God gave us. 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, as citizens, we have a moral obligation to respect and obey all laws that are just. It seems to me that it is a good thing for our states to limit the freedom to drink to those who are age 21 and over. 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 also obligated to follow it in regard to their children.
The reasons that parents might let their children drink vary. Perhaps the most common reason is because they want their children to “like” them. We all want to be liked, but sometimes those in authority must make unpopular decisions. As I said above, it’s difficult to be a parent at times. All parents find it difficult when they have to say “no” to their children. This might 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 that their children misunderstand them or see them as “old fashioned.”
Perhaps you’re asking this question because you have not allowed your teen to drink. My encouragement is simply to know that you’re making the right decision.