This post is somewhat different for me, it is not about our lovely holiday farm, my traditional outdoor adventures with the kids or my latest creations to feed them all from the kitchen, this is the post I was never meant to write.
Nick and I have always given our children a measured independence and freedom beyond their friends and in return we expect a level of respect for this scope. However my parenting style came crashing down around me a few weeks ago with Theo and I was not at all sure I would share it here. On reflection with a few weeks to think about the implications I decided that our experience may help others to be aware, so here goes:
We have always been very open with our children, discussed all manner of topics at length engaging in some great debates and have allowed them alcohol underage at home with us. The triplets at age 10 will often ask for a sip of my evening glass of wine or Dad’s beer and providing they ask politely we let them. The older boys at 14 and 16 are allowed a beer at the weekend or a special occasion with us and I have always considered that a little exposure and not making drinking taboo was a good thing. We are well known for throwing a party and I am fine with my older boys having a drink at these as I’ve always wanted them to develop a sensible approach to drink under my watchful eye. It has never been an issue, until now!
I have shared Nick’s amazing 50th birthday celebrations here, I marvelled at how the kids and adults all united on the dance floor, however we were missing one in all the photos. My screenager had disgraced himself; on reflection I think he felt caught between the teens that were having a wonderful time and happily dancing after a glass of fizz and the triplets who he felt were too young for him. He hadn’t been looking forward to the party and his answer unbeknownst to us was to pinch the Prosecco being offered on the way in. He confided in me after that he was feeling great after two and starting to enjoy the evening, so drank three more, all on an empty stomach. None of us were aware of this as it happened so quickly while we were welcoming all our friends and family; however soon Theo was clearly not feeling fine, and very ill. Nick and I took it in turns to look after him, walking the ghostly white boy that was our son up and down the road to try and sober him up but to no avail as once back inside he fell fast asleep on a friend, also a doctor *sigh*.
He woke the following morning blissfully unaware of the trouble he had caused with a clear head after being ill and starving hungry. In a way I wish he had suffered a hangover to remind him what a rubbish idea drinking too much was! Has he learned a lesson? I hope so; he certainly hasn’t been keen to try anything since and says he won’t drink like that again. I know he is way too young at just coming up 13 to have had this experience but I also know he is going to face many parties in years to come where he is encouraged to drink to excess; I won’t be there for him then, no Mum and Dad to clear up after him, walk him down the lane and sit with him till his bed beckons. On balance I’d rather he made his mistakes with us than at a party just with friends his age. My eldest has told me enough tales of his friends lying in fields after too much to drink at all night parties, he is 16 and never been one of them, the odd drink at home growing up has made him respect alcohol and the same for his 14 year old brother, they both have a beer or two and stop. It didn’t work the same way for Theo, but at least his Dad and I were there for him, I hope he will mature and learn before he finds himself at a party where there is drink on offer and friends egging him on.
There is no right answer on this one, perhaps we were irresponsible not to have seen what Theo was doing, of course I’d rather he hadn’t shown himself up and put a dampener on his Dad’s big night, but at the end of the day parenting is about learning and we have all learned from this one. I won’t be changing my views about alcohol in the home as it is not fair on my other children who have proved to be sensible, but have reinforced how to be responsible with an occasional drink and will be keeping a closer watch on a party night until trust is restored with Theo.
If you have any experience of teens and alcohol I’d love to hear about how you handled it.
A bit of an ‘enlightening’ magic moment for me this week!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.