I’ve been grounded for a month because I came home after a date with my boyfriend with alcohol on my breath. I can handle this, but I also cannot go out with my boyfriend for two months because they are blaming him as much as they are blaming me. That’s not fair! He didn’t pour the drink down my throat or threaten me with violence if I didn’t drink the beer. I don’t drink and I didn’t like the taste of beer, but I drank it because I was with a group of kids who were drinking beer and I didn’t have the courage to say, “No thanks” when one of the beer-drinking guys handed me one.
I admit that I was weak and I’m “paying the price” for my mistake, but I’m upset that they are also blaming my boyfriend for my error. I drank the beer because at that moment I decided to drink it, and my boyfriend was not around when this happened. I tried explaining this to my parents, but they refuse to be reasonable. He is getting punished, but he committed no crime. What can I do to get my parents to realize this?
St. Paul, Minn.
Nameless: I agree that you are responsible 100 percent for drinking the beer and, as you are now well aware, it was an unwise decision. Your parents were disappointed that you betrayed the trust they had in you and are including your boyfriend as part of your problem.
Learn from this experience. Take your punishment and stop telling them that “it isn’t fair.” Life, at times, isn’t fair. Remember, if you hadn’t had the beer, your boyfriend and you would be holding hands right now!
If your parents have the opportunity to read your letter and my response, there might be a slight chance they will give in a bit and allow you to go out with your boyfriend before the first snowfall.
Dr. Wallace: I appreciate your practical advice to teenagers. However, in your recent column on the teen years and suicide, I would like to make a suggestion.
As the father of a college student who died by suicide, our family has been very involved in The Compassionate Friends organization. Several years ago TCF decided that instead of using the phrase “committed suicide,” the more accurate terminology should be “died by suicide.” The connotation associated with the word “committed” makes it sound like the death is a crime.
— Ryan’s Dad,
Dad: Thanks for this valuable information.
Dr. Wallace: You constantly encourage teens to avoid alcohol and tobacco products. I agree with you 100 percent. Do you have statistics on the percentage of teens who are steady users of tobacco or alcohol? I have often wondered about this because none of my friends smoke or drink, and neither do I.
— Ella, Ames, Iowa
Ella: According to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 20 percent of all high school 12th graders are addicted to tobacco and use it daily while seventy percent of high school seniors have used alcohol. By age 17, fifty percent of the males and 15 percent of the females could be classified as “problem drinkers.” That means they have been intoxicated six times in the past year or because of their alcohol consumption they have had problems at school, at home, or with law authorities.
Write to Dr. Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org.