I can’t imagine that it is easy raising a child. Even more daunting might be the prospect of raising a teenager. Almost every time a discussion of parenting emerges within a group of my peers, I hear each one of them swear that they will be a “cool parent.” Since we are all 20-somethings, obviously we are already experts on the topic. What we don’t realize is that being a cool parent might not be the best thing for our theoretical children, or even for us.
What exactly is a cool parent? I think in most cases it would be one who doesn’t care what time you get home, thinks that homework is unimportant, and is willing to let the rules be more like guidelines. Sometimes it is easy to forget that these rules apply to parents too, not just the kids. As much as we like to think parents are the end alls of authority, they aren’t. When it comes to federal and state laws, even parents are not exempt.
When in high school, it was not uncommon for there to be parties with a fair supply of alcohol. In most cases, this alcohol was purchased by a “cool dad” or older sibling. With alcohol so readily available to minors, it is easy for parents to think that they are looking out for their kids’ best interest by providing a safe venue for these activities. Many parents think that if kids are going to drink anyway, it is better for them to drink in the house. To a certain extent, this may be true. It probably is safer for minors to drink in the safety of the home than out in an empty parking lot. However, making the situation safer does not make it more legal.
In June, Elisa Kelly, a mother of two, was sentenced to two years in jail after hosting a party for her sons and their underaged friends. They had asked her to buy them beer, and she agreed on the condition that they would drink in the house after everyone surrendered their car keys and promised to stay the night. While she might have had the best of intentions, she was still breaking the law. Distributing to your high school offspring is still distributing, especially when it involves 20 of their buddies. There are exceptions in some states that allow parents to provide alcohol to their own children, but they do not allow for providing alcohol to other people’s children.
Each state differs when it comes to conditions of parental consent and alcohol use, so it is best to look up your state to be sure. Specifics on each state can be found at the Alcohol Policy Information’s website. The emerging trend is to make adults responsible for any consumption of alcohol on their property, whether or not they are aware of it. This law applies not only to parents, but to any host. That means college kids hosting parties can be held responsible for any of their underage keg-standing friends.
Allowing alcohol to be consumed by minors on your watch could cost you even more than your “cool mom” label. Heavy fines and imprisonment are serious consequences for serious crimes. So when in doubt, check IDs at the door.