I stayed in bed until after 12:00 today (don’t judge me, the lack of sleep in the last fortnight caught up with me) and I was listening to this morning. Today, it featured a mother who had found out that her daughter had been drinking without her knowledge since she was 14 years old (the girl is now 17) and she decided – in the knowledge that her daughter, like many other young teenagers would continue to do this whether or not she told her not to – that from now on when her daughter went out for a drink she would accompany her to make sure she stayed out of trouble and didn’t drink to excess. Watch the feature here: http://www.itv.com/thismorning/life/mum-who-gets-drunk-with-her-daughter/
When I first heard this, I thought, how stupid of her. How can she take her daughter out drinking when she knows she is underage? But then I waited, I listened, and her mother made quite a good point. “My daughter is going to drink even if I tell her she is not allowed to, so instead of her doing this unsupervised, I want to be there to make sure that she drinks sensibly and doesn’t get into any sort of trouble”. Surely, any parent would rather they be there to prevent their son or daughter from coming to harm? I wholly understand the point that this girl is underage and should not be drinking, but I also know that even if her mother told her not to drink anymore until she was of age (18 in the UK), she would anyway. I know this because I did it myself, silly I know, but I used to drink with friends from the age of 16. I never drank stupid amounts but I had friends who did, and on several occasions I personally had to phone ambulances for one or two of them after they had had plenty more than one too many. But I know that if these friends of mine had been in the presence of their parents when they were drinking, they wouldn’t have been in even half of the state that they were. That’s because they wouldn’t drink as much. To this day, I won’t drink too much at family parties etc, and that is out of respect. Which is, I think, why this mother and daughter have such an understanding. The mother respects that her child will drink, she doesn’t agree with it and actually doesn’t necessarily condone it, but at the same time, she accepts that it will happen with or without her consent, which leads her to the decision to be present when the drinking happens, just in case.
But in saying that I also understand the counterargument, brought by journalist and mum Liz Fraser who says that the 17 year old shouldn’t be drinking until she is old enough. Full stop. She also thinks that it shows much more respect from the daughter if she took her mother more seriously and listened when she told her not to do something, which, in this case is consuming alcohol.
I can honestly say I’m on the fence with this one, the story did intrigue me though. But as someone who does not have any children, I don’t think I’m in any position to fall down on either side of the argument. Maybe one day I’ll understand it fully. I can appreciate both points, but I don’t believe that I can entirely grasp the situation as it is something of which I have little experience, other than having been in the same situation as the daughter. The difference is however, my mother never found out. Which may be why I put it down to regular teenage behavior, something that should of course be viewed as wrong, but something which is inevitable. Take it from me, as I am still actually in the last of my teenage years, that we love to do the exact opposite of what our parents ask of us. I’m not quite sure why, maybe you can blame it on the “raging hormones” that people speak of so often. But that’s just how it is. So perhaps this mother has found the ‘happy’ medium. Or maybe she is just being irresponsible and putting her child at risk. One thing I do know though, is that people are way too quick to judge people in situations that they’ve never experienced themselves. I would argue until I am blue in the face with anyone who wishes to call this woman a bad mother. You don’t know why she came to this decision, and you don’t know why she chooses to act this way. But I suppose people will always judge others, even though they hope not to be judged in return. Which brings me to one of my favourite quotes, recently discovered, rather fitting actually …
“We evaluate others with a Godlike justice, but we want them to evaluate us with a Godlike compassion.” — Sydney J. Harris