lastic red cups line the table in the corner. There is a shiny silver can in each person’s hand. The music is blaring, though nobody is really paying attention to what is playing. Nobody can safely drive home. Some get tired, and start to crash. Others end up with their heads in the toilet for the next four hours. Tomorrow, a number of them will probably not remember what happened. But, perhaps, somebody will… chances are this ‘somebody’ will be a parent-a parent who has been upstairs for the entire night, allowing his or her teenager to host this event. Unfortunately, in Darien, it has become common for parents to allow such behavior to go on under their watch. Thus, I begin to consider the following: perhaps some of the responsibility for the decisions we see fellow high school students making nowadays is due to parents who have failed to act as mature role models in their child’s life.
Like it or not, there is a law against underage drinking. There is also a law against serving alcohol to minors. So, why parents choose to allow it to go on inside their household is beyond my understanding. In my opinion, parents who allow their high school student and his or her friends to abuse substances under their roof are purely enabling them, as well as setting them up for disaster. According to Depot program director Ms. Janice Marzano, “We all make poor decisions when under the influence of alcohol and drugs.” Alcohol and drug use will inevitably have a negative effect on human beings—especially teenagers, who are young, and without fully developed brains. When under the influence, students might incite violence against one another, or even try to operate a vehicle. Ultimately, these students have the potential to destroy their lives in the process. No matter what negative consequences come from a night of drinking and drug abuse, the responsibility must partially fall on the shoulders of the parents who allowed the illegal activities to occur.
I am not proclaiming that parents have wrong intentions. I think that, at first, all parents have the right intentions. They raise their kids to believe that underage drinking is wrong. But, in time, when they realize that they have lost their children to partying, they allow the misbehavior to go on, but try to control it as best they can. Many will allow students to party under their roofs, provided that when each one arrives, his or her keys will be confiscated and no one will drive home while under the influence. But, what happens when the parent misses one student’s set of keys, and that student leaves the house, only to get into a high speed crash and kill another human being? In this situation, the responsibility will always fall on the parent enabler.
Adults in this town seem to be big fans of the idea of “do as I say, not as I do.” Parents drink in front of their kids because they insist that they can control themselves, while believing that students cannot. This is an ignorant assumption on the parents’ behalf. They must know that their child is most likely going to follow their lead. Ms. Marzano’s job involves constant interaction with Darien teens and parents. Her experience in this town has led her to state the following: “We sit and preach to kids, but yet everything we do somehow revolves around a cocktail, or a glass of wine with dinner.” This is true. Unfortunately, this is the manner in which Darien kids are raised. If their parents drink, or, although alarming, allow them to drink, then they absolutely take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
There are other examples of faulty parental instruction that has ultimately led kids to make poor decisions than just simply allowing underage drinking to go on. Another issue that I would argue is prevalent in this town involves distracted driving—namely, texting and driving. Although this may surprise you, the majority of the texting and driving that goes on in this town is done by the parents, not the kids. If you walk down any busy street in town and look inside at the people operating the vehicles, you will notice that a fourth of them are Darien moms who are texting while driving.
“It’s not fair to direct all the commercials you see about distracted driving only at the kids. The adults are supposed to be role models,” Ms. Marzano said.
But, perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel—these kids who have made poor decisions in high school as a result of his or her own parents’ poor guidance have the potential to grow up and be exemplary parents. In fact, Ms. Marzano said, “So many kids that made several bad decisions in high school come back to be really great, productive parents.”
I am not a parent. I am a high school senior. I have never been in my thirties or forties, trying to raise a Darien teenager. However, having grown up in this town, I can acknowledge that there is a drastic difference between making mistakes as a parent and enabling your child. “As a parent, nobody gives you a book telling you how to raise your kids,” Ms. Marzano, a mother of two herself, said. Nevertheless, in Darien, too many parents are beyond making simple “mistakes.” They are at the point where they are, regrettably, giving their children the opportunity to make poor decisions. As we all know, a single decision can change your life.
Although, as high school students, we naturally feel grown up and responsible, we are not yet adults; we still have guardians, we still attend school. Therefore, it is important for us to still be treated as kids when it comes to drinking and the law. I want to prolong my childhood innocence. I only wish that Darien parents, too, wanted to keep their children innocent and actually tried to prevent them from breaking the law. As Ms. Marzano once said: “There are adults and there are kids. You have to learn to respect that.”
Check out the advice that some former DHS students have for Darien parents at the following link: http://darienps.org/neirad/1006parentadvice.php