Friday, July 29, 2011

Don't Drink!..... But, If You Do

We have always raised our kids to not drink. We have discussed with them, ad nauseum, the dangers of too much alcohol. They have grown up with the phrases "You never want to turn your right to choose over to something else" and "It only takes one choice and one moment to change your life forever". We have also taught them this with the big but at the end of it, and I have learned recently how important that big but is.
I read a story this week of Takeimi Rao, 14 years old, who died of alcohol consumption. Was she a troubled youth who went on drinking binges? No. She was a straight A student who was getting ready for her first year in High School this fall. “She was one of those girls who was just the most respectful kid; you want your kids to hang out with her because she was that good of a girl,” said Angie Phillips, 36, of Santa Rosa, whose daughter was Rao's close friend. “That's why it's so troubling." 

Takeimi had just spent the day with three of her friends, had gone out for hamburgers for dinner and then went to her house for a sleepover. They decided to sneak down and take a bottle of vodka from the kitchen cupboard. They had poured the vodka into a water bottle with some soda and passed it around. Takeimi didn't wake up the next morning.

As I type this my heart aches for her mother. I can't even imagine the things going through her mind and the guilt she must feel. Four girls, just having a good time and experimenting: who hasn't done that?! This is where our big but comes in, right here.

Don't drink, but if you do it only takes a very small amount of alcohol to get drunk: too much will kill you. Don't drink, but if you do and find yourself unable to drive home, call me and I will come and get you: it's better than having you drive home and killing someone. Don't drink, but if you do make sure there is someone who stays sober for the night so that you don't make dumb choices: landing yourself if jail or pregnant will have an effect on the rest of your life. Don't drink. Period. But I love you enough for you to come to me and talk to me about it without freaking out. Be smart and be safe.

That is how we have raised our kids. Jess had her first sip of alcohol on our cruise last Spring. I was with her and we sampled together. Fortunately, she didn't like it much so I am not worried about her experimenting  at college: she said she was going to stick to her soda. She knows she doesn't need to run away to school to try it, I have already let her. But, she did thank me for treating her with respect and trusting her enough to have that experience with me.

Keep an open communication with your kids and do more than just tell them not to do something. "Because I'm the parent and say so" just doesn't work in some cases. They need to be educated as to why drinking is dangerous, why they shouldn't do it and how to be safe if they do. It's important. For Takeimi's sake, teach them. 

This blog post is dedicated to Takeimi and her family. My heart goes out to you!

1 comment:

  1. That is so, so sad. I can't imagine how painful that must be. The reason I never tried a drink is because I actually saw alcohol ruin the lives of my family members. My cousins are still slaves to it. It scared me too much. I knew like you said to your kids, that I didn't want to lose my ability to choose, and I was afraid I would become addicted like many of my family members. I am so glad that Weldon and I will be able to tell our girls that we never experimented with alcohol and drugs even though most of our friends were because we didn't want the lives that we saw our family members and friends living, or not living. Good post. Hopefully our kids will take the example of others and decide not to try it either.