Teens & Drinking
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I am looking for a therapist for a 13 year old girl who states she is an alcoholic. She has gotten in trouble at school and finally admitted alcohol use to her parents. She was seen at Thunder Road, but they did not think she needed their services but rather an individual therapist. Can anyone recommend a good therapist for a young teen with addiction issues? Thank you. Concerned friend
Please contact Colorado Kagan at 510-334-2255. Dr. Kagan has extensive experience in working with teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Nancy T. Chin, Academic Coach
I have a tricky situation I'm trying to sort out. My sister in-law's younger brother recently moved to town and is spending a fair amount of time with us (family dinners, etc.). Apparently he's used to being allowed to drink alcohol because he does not hesitate to grab a beer out of the fridge. Nobody seems to bat an eye. I also know that his sister buys beer for him. I'm having mixed feelings because I think 18 year olds should be allowed to drink-- but the fact is it's illegal. That doesn't even bother me as much as the fact that he drives home afterward (after a beer or 2).
So my concerns have to do with the legal/liability implications of him drinking here should something happen after he leaves, and I also feel like, even though I don't want to have a zero-tolerance position on this, as parents we do have to be conscious that we're setting an example for our kid. As much as I disagree with the 21 yr. drinking age, I'm not interested in being the house where kids think they can come drink and it's totally cool.
Do I put the kabosh on letting him drink here? Or just insist that he doesn't drive afterward?
Any advice? Want to be cool but not that cool
I would suggest you explain your position just as you did in your post. Surely he will understand that though you personally disagree with the law, it is the law and it needs to be followed. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, I would at least insist he sleep over at your house so he doesn't drive after drinking. This new rule needs to be explained before he grabs his next beer. Because if he is driving drunk, you are responsible, both legally and more important morally. Robin
I think it's perfectly okay for you to say no, he can't drink in your house. You can just smile and say ''sorry guy, but the bar's closed. Come back for a beer when you're 21.'' If he pushes, you can firmly but nicely say, ''Sorry, our house, our rules.'' My hope for you is that at that point, he'll just stop. You are a relative stranger and kids usually will listen to limits in those situations.
You don't have to explain yourself--it's your house. In fact, I'd avoid explaining yourself other than the above, because it's not open for discussion, so there's no point. If he's being a pain, you can always try to shift discussion by saying ''If you want to talk over dinner about the legal drinking age, use of recreational drugs, etc., we'd all be interested in debating that. But it doesn't have anything to do with our house rules.'' This may be something he is just trying on, hoping that in your house it's all cool even if it wasn't at home, or at the homes of his friends. If you don't like it, put your foot down. your house, your rules
Your house your rules, enforce them
Live in California? California law regards serving alcohol to minors as prohibited.
Underage drinking is illegal.
What would you do if your young in-law were doing something else illegal or unacceptable in your home?
Discuss this with your family.
I know people who started drinking in their teens, it is a very hard habit to change, and often what you are witnessing ( 1-2 beers ) is only a portion of what he may be drinking every day.
These days it seems no one wants to ''be the bad guy''. People don't want to hear ''bad news'' or be ''criticized''. When something really bad happens ''They never saw it coming.''.
How far you go with this is up to you, but I would never allow teenage drinking in my home, or at any social event large or small that I was present as a responsible adult - in my house or anyone else's. If the young man has an unfortuate event driving home, you may find yourself in court criminally and finanicially liable. It looks like you may already be in noncompliance with the existing regulations: http://www.tipsalcohol.com/california-alcohol-laws.html This law also covers parents providing alcohol to minors. '' Those furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors face a misdemeanor charge regardless of the location '' Serious, don't break the law
i don't allow under age drinking at my house period. it is especially difficult when my favorite 20 year old nephew comes over during a break from school where he has been brewing his own beer for the last two years. his respect for me and our strong relationship allows the space for there to be different rules (without judgment) in different situations. he knows i have a teenager, he knows that i honor my sister's (his mother's) concerns about his driving, he knows that in 6 short months it'll be a non-issue and we'll still love each other and we can share a bottle of wine then. and, even then, i won't let him drink and drive. if not letting someone drink at your house is a deal breaker for the relationship, then they have a drinking problem. anonymous
My 19-year-old daughter is in her second year at a British university. The town is small, and the students' main social activity seems to be clubbing and drinking. My daughter, a teetotaller in high school, has taken to drinking vodka ''alcopops'': sweet, fruity, bottled drinks with about 5% alcohol content. She freely admits she has no head for the stuff, but appears to overindulge at least once a week (as do many, many British students). She talks openly to me about this practice, both by phone and e-mail, and knows my take on it: eat a good dinner beforehand, only have a couple of drinks, with lots of water and juice in between drinks; or don't drink at all. At my suggestion, she visited the National Health Service's website, took their alcohol practices test, and admitted she needed to drink less.
My daughter is a good student, has plenty of friends, and holds down a part-time job. She always goes out with a group of friends, and walks home with them or takes a cab. When she was visiting us this summer, she did not drink at all and only tried to buy alcohol on an airline flight (where she was promptly carded and refused).
My guess is that, being a worrier, she drinks too much to calm any anxieties she might have about money, boyfriends, etc., and, as an American abroad, to feel more comfortable in a group. And because it's fun, of course, but not fun for me to hear about! Her attitude about it, at least around me, is: I'm NOT an alcoholic; everyone does it! And yet she does sometimes seem to regret overindulging and feeling foolish.
My daughter is going to discuss this at her next medical check-up, and I'm also going to check in with Al-Anon to see what they have to say. My guess is that this is a phase and all that, but there is some alcoholism in my family, and I can't help worrying. Any advice?
I think it's great that your daughter communicates with you and that you are talking to her seriously about this. I am the daughter of an alcoholic who was the son of an alcoholic who was the son of the alcoholic... and I am the sister of an alcoholic as well. These things do run through families, whether it's genetic or behavioral, and I know that I do have to think about my alcohol behaviors. When I was in college I had a very difficult break-up with a boyfriend, and I found myself buying a bottle of gin to keep in the fridge. Why? Just to have a gin and tonic now and then, I loved the taste... But I realized with sudden clarity that the reason I needed the bottle there was to have medication on hand to numb the pain. In your daughter's case, you mention that she is nervous and may need to calm herself. It sounds as if she is very intelligent -- you can probably guide her to help her see that she might be using the alcohol as a medication. (Is that why she wanted a drink on the plane?) It might be OK to do this if it is in strict moderation and she understands what she is doing. But the social setting of drinking (and in Britain, people drink A LOT, and it is often very uncool not to drink) presses toward more alcohol than one should have. Keep working with her on helping her to set her own limits, to be aware of the dangers involved (yes, you get more relaxed, and then you sometimes have -- even unprotected -- sex you didn't mean to have), yes, this is a really addictive substance, especially for some people, etc. Good luck and congratulations on being a great parent. daughter of a recovered alcoholic
i grew up in the uk, and went to college there too. there is much more acceptance of alcohol and it is a large part of college social life -- going to the pub is what you do. even my sister, a doctor in the UK, drank moderately through her pregnancy and does not advise her patients to stop drinking [as pregnant US women are told to do]. so i would reassure you that your daughter's behavior is probably typical, so not to worry unduly. that said, given that you have a family history, she needs to be educated and aware of that history. it is a great sign that she is telling you all this, so i would just keep the lines of communication open and encourage moderation. judith
Last spring a college-aged Australian relative stayed with us on the way back from school abroad at a British university in a small town. He also described the heavy drinking among college students there and he participated in this as a social activity. It sounds like you are doing the right things and you are probably right that this is a phase related to the circumstances. also a college student mother
I just discovered that my daughter (turned 16 in May)has been drinking with her girlfriends. She couldn't give me much info on how much or how often but basically it sounds like slightly more than every two weeks and that they (a group of 6 or so) pass around a bottle of vodka and drink until they feel drunk.
She has had a lot of freedom to spend the night at various girlfriend's houses- we know the parents of about half of them. She tried to impress upon me that she has shown good judgement (...) by not using harder drugs than marijuana (ie ecstasy, LSD or cocaine) and that she doesn't use at school like many of her classmates at Berkeley High. I explained to her my concerns-overdose, sexual assault, risky behavior, alcoholism etc. My husband and I plan to curtail her overnights and pay more attention to whose houses she is allowed to go to but I don't know whether or not I should talk to her girlfriend's parents. I'm afraid of alienating her from her friends and also of making her vow never to tell me anything ever again. Any advice? Conflicted Mom
The same thing happened to me a few years ago when my oldest child was 15. I found an empty bottle of vodka in his closet. He told me that he and his friend had been drinking it over several weeks, when the friend stayed overnight. I didn't call the friend's mom, and in retrosepct I wish I had. At the time, it seemed like a one-time mistake, I didn't really know the other mom, and I didn't want to sound accusing. So I told my son to let the friend know that he needed to tell his mom, or I would. But after that, for the duration of high school, there were other episodes. My experience was that there was widespread drinking at Berkeley High. There were parents who bought beer for their kids, there were parties where the parents weren't home and kids got drunk, there were sleepovers where kids got drunk.
Honestly I do not know how to tell you to prevent this if your kid really wants to do it. You can minimize it but I'm not sure you can eliminate it unless you never allow sleepovers or outings with other kids. However, I deeply appreciated the phone calls and support from other parents. Believe me, they are going to be having the same experiences you are having now, and being in contact with other adults makes these years so much easier to navigate. It's also important for the kids to know that the parents are a united front. In our case, three of us moms agreed on what our policy was about alcohol and then talked to our kids. We parents agreed to call each other at any time of day or night, if we were worried about where they were or what they were doing. There were phone calls at 2 in the morning, and then driving around Berkeley looking for them. (Fortunately they were always very strict about not driving while drinking, so they were not that hard to find.) So: Call the other parents! Not all of them will be receptive, but I bet most of them will. You just tell them that you wanted them to know, and you can say what your policy is, and that if they ever notice your daughter involved in drinking or other trouble, you would appreciate a call. All the best Been There
dear concerned mom --
i don't mean to alarm you, but what your daughter was willing to tell you is probably the tip of the iceberg. the vagueness and excuses are classic.
even if her report is absolutely accurate, 6 girls sharing a liter of vodka every couple of weeks may translate to each girl having 4-5 drinks of hard liquor, straight. which they did not obtain legally, and probably consumed under unsupervised circumstances.
how do you know this only happens every couple of weeks? that there aren't boys there? that she is ''only'' consuming that much, that she doesn't at school, that she isn't doing other drugs, that it only happens at slumber parties where nobody is driving?
i think you should talk to other parents. the fear of alienating our teens even further is a huge struggle for a lot of us, but it can be an enormous help to have some parent allies when these kinds of challenges come up. it may well be that the other parents, or some of them, have similar concerns. not every parent will agree to keep things confidential amongst parents, but a lot will. knowing you are not the only worried parents helps a lot; hearing stories and concerns via the parent network may give you a lot of useful information.
i found this out too late -- my kid was already in serious trouble by the time i started really talking to other parents. [and i don't mean to suggest your kid is in serious trouble -- but it sure would have helped to have known more, earlier, in our case.] when we did start talking, really talking, it turned out that several other kids in the group were in trouble, too. just sharing information gave other families courage.
i am personally very grateful for a few parent calls i've gotten. the first one, accusing my beautiful boy of being a bad influence, i deeply resented at the time -- but i found out later that the parent caller was right. [a suggestion: mutual cooperation about a concern is a better tack to take than, ''you are a failure as a parent.'' just saying.] after we reluctantly turned to more intense interventions and started really talking, we heard a lot that confirmed we had made the right choice.
more recently, my son's girlfriend's parents told me secretly when he got a DUI, and then they talked him into telling me himself. i am so not thrilled that he got the DUI, but they are angels in my book.
parenting teens is the hardest thing i've ever done. just as when we were new parents and got so much advice and information from everyone, it helps a LOT for parents of teens to be talking. anonymom
Personally, I'm not for teen drinking. Not only is it risky (drinking VODKA??!!!), kids can easily drink too much and I know a few who have ended up in the hospital, they get out of control too fast (girls guzzling hard alcohol), it's illegal last time I checked for kids under 21 to drink (did you ask where they got the alcohol from?), and it is not a healthy way to treat either your body or your mind. To relax there are other healthy things to do, and for fun there are MANY other things to do. And most of all it can create dependance in someone so young to be regularly drinking the hard stuff especially! And then there's the hangover... So, there's where I'm coming from. I would put my foot down right now. And I would call the other parents and talk with them. Being afraid of your daughter not taking to you again, is the least of your worries here. She will see that you care about her and pointing out dangerous behaviour is your job. There is probably more stuff that she's not telling you anyway. If she has been doing this regularly then she's probably been around people who have drank too much and have done stupid/dangerous things. Did you discuss that? Talk about the health of her liver and that kids who abstain from drugs and alcohol until they are older (21-ish) are less likely to become addicted adults. If you have alcoholism in your families then it's more risky for her also. I would try and put an end to it immediately. concerned mom
My 16 year old is very social and naturally has/is experimenting with drink/smoke/etc. I expect her to exhibit some risk taking behavior. (Dr. Lynn Ponton writes about teens and risk taking...she's fantastic).
I've been discussing these issues with my kid since she was very young and that makes it easier, she's accustomed to talking to me about complex, even uncomfortable issues.
I've told her that her day-to-day freedoms depend on my gut-feeling that she's being safe in the world. I've expressed, over years of conversation, that I trust her and I do. But I'm not a fool, either. I remember my teenage years. My daughter knows what I think.... if she's going to make grown-up/sophisticated social decisions then she certainly ought to be sufficiently mature and confident to explalin and discuss those choices.
She's finishing her Jr. year at Albany High. I don't want her to be alone at College without having had the experience of considering and evaluating and discussing important choices, with me. Albany High Parent
Alcohol use can damage the pre-frontal cortex of the brain while it is still forming. I've been telling my grandson this since he was very young. I'm hoping that will make alcohol experimentation less attractive to him. You need to hang on to as much brain as you can. In your twenties, when the brain is ''done'', you can always have a drink then. barbara
While painting our son's room, we found a stash of booze. We we very surprised. Our son is 15. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, how did you handle it. Do you think it is what they all experiment with? L.
I haven't gone through this personally as a parent (and hope NOT to), but I drank as a young teenager and so speak from that perspective. I had an alcoholic mom, who did a lot of solitary drinking, but I myself drank in social situations. I don't ever remember having a drink at home-unless my mother was out and my friends were over-and even then it was from HER gallon of wine that lived in the kitchen. It was more a thing to do with my friends outside my house. I would worry if I found alcohol in my kid's room, honestly. I would talk to my kid very frankly, but without getting mad. They may have some very sensitive issues that they are dealing with and really need a place to cry or express themselves (though may not want to talk about). Drinking numbs, but it can also allow one to ''let it all out''. It really distorts feelings. If your kid is drinking whether it is socially or alone, I would get them to a therapist. They need to know that they can experiment, but it can sometimes turn into a crutch and a much more far-reaching problem. In order to stop any type of self-destructive behavior the person themself needs to figure out the reasons for the behavior or at least recognize that it's bad for them. and want to stop. You can help your teen by giving him the support and by helping explore the resources that he needs. Good luck. teenage drinker
I found a empty tequila bottle in my 15-year-old's closet. The first thing I did is imagine him sitting in his closet by himself in the dark, drinking it straight out of the bottle! That isn't what happened though. As it turned out he had help from plenty of his friends. We talked about it in depth, and I phoned the mom of the friend he said he was drinking with and talked to her too. After that, I made sure my alcohol was locked up, and he had few opportunities to drink at home without my knowing. Even still, there were a couple of other incidents, which I knew about from talking to his friends' parents, and from what he said, and from observing a very drunken teenager one New Year's Eve. And when he went off to college I found another stash of empty liquor bottles. He is over 21 now, and from what he tells me, he still drinks, sometimes to excess. He is a very sociable party-guy type of person. I don't know what to tell you - it is very disturbing and I still worry about it. But it did seem to start at age 15 just like your son. My other son is also very social but has never been a big drinker. So I guess some kids just really want to try alcohol while others don't.
My son, age 20, went into a store with his friend who is 21. The friend bought some beer, which was put (un- opened) in the trunk of my son's car. As soon as my son pulled away from the curb, a policeman pulled him over and gave him a ticket under DMV code #23224 which states that ''No person under the age of 21 may knowlingly drive a vehicle containing any alcoholic beverage, unless accompanied by a parent, other responsible adult . . .'' My son was surprised that he had done anything wrong - ''I'm just giving my buddy a ride home.'' I didn't know about this law and neither did any of my friends. So I thought it'd be a good thing to publicize.
Regarding the posting about the 20-year old who received a citation for allowing his 21-year old passenger to have (unopened) alcohol in the trunk.
I looked up the law and was astounded at what I found.
(c) If the vehicle used in any violation of subdivision (a) or (b) is registered to an offender who is under the age of 21 years, the vehicle may be impounded at the owner's expense for not less than one day nor more than 30 days for each violation. (d) Any person under 21 years of age convicted of a violation of this section is subject to Section 13202.5. [note: this is a one-year suspension of drivers license] (e) Any person convicted for a violation of subdivision (a) or (b)is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
The law applies to anyone under 21 who is not accompanied by or acting under the reasonable instructions (to dispose of the alcohol) of a parent, responsible adult relative, any other adult designated by the parent, or legal guardian.
This is all the more surprising because at 18 years and older people aren't normally assumed to be under the care of a parent, adult relative or guardian.
Parenting seemed so easy when the kids were young. Now it is a challenge every day! I have two boys who are just about to turn 15 (going on 20) and 12 (still a little sweetie for now...). I could definitely use help. For example, what do you do when you come home and find your 14-year-old and his friends drinking white russians??
Re: alcohol/drugs and kids staying out because they're afraid to come home loaded. Alcohol is available to every kid - most often the beers you or other adults have in the refrigerator or the wine you have in yr cellar. Drugs are also as available as Pepsi. I made it clear to both my kids that I'd drive anywhere at any hour- even if they were breaking curfew or they were somewhere I might not approve of- if they called and didn't want to drive or didn't feel that there was a safe driver available or if they simply needed my help. I'd do it and they'd have amnesty. I'd rather have them home, safe. So far it's never been needed.
I share similar concerns and observations regarding old Provo Park and the availability of drugs and alcohol among Berkeley High students. In the past few months, a drug counselor was hired to work in the BHS Health Center, to address the alcohol and substance abuse problems among BHS students, and to work with parents. This position is temporary and I believe we should support a permanent one at BHS. The use of alcohol and drugs is very prevalent, with students even making videos and the yearbook quoting students on their use and excessiveness. It's important for all of us parents to realize how widespread it is. From discussions with school administrators, they find it hard to act on all of this, because the parent community is not unified or supportive of the administration when they take steps to deal with kids getting high at the Park, during Spirit Week, at various school events. The fact is that drugs and alcohol are being used by students from all sectors of the student population....from the highest achieving to the lowest. This is not a safe situation for our kids. Regardless of all of our past experiences during the 60s and 70s, our job as parents is to bring them up in a safe environment and to work together for an educational setting that is not out of control.
Just an additional note on the drugs in the park problem, there are a lot of kids at B-high who do not participate in this activity, some with actual veiwpoints on the issue, others for other reasons. I have heard from many kids that Albany HS is known as the drug HS, and that they would never want to go there. My take on this is that there may be a lot of kids at BHS who do drugs, but don't forget we have what, about 4,000 students, and the percentage of total students into drugs is probably no higher than in other places.
Here's a question for all the parents out there: How do we discourage our kids from doing what we did at their age? I was a card-carrying member of the party scene I'm afraid to think of how many years ago (early 70's), and did all the things that we don't want our kids to do in high school - alcohol, pot, psychedelics, sex, etc. - and I'd have to say that it was a lot of fun and I don't regret it, in general. However, I don't want to encourage my daughter to follow in my footsteps, because some of my friends had (and may still have) difficulties with substance abuse, in other words, they couldn't handle it - I was lucky and survived relatively unscathed, and don't do any drugs or alcohol now (who has the time?). So how do we tell our kids to avoid what we may still consider pleasurable acts/substances without being hypocrites? I haven't had the big sex and drug discussions with my daughter yet because I don't know how to talk to her about this without lying.
Marijuana use by our kids is complicated because so many of us made it through high school and college *just fine* smoking pot. To my mind, there is an important distinction between recreational use of drugs and alcohol, and use that becomes a major factor in a person's life. Age is an essential consideration too. But we can't ignore that many happy, successful, well-adjusted adults began experimenting with drug as teenagers.
It is hard to talk about this with your kid without sounding like you are encouraging them to do it, but when they have asked about it, I've told them the truth and given them my perspective on responsible drug and alcohol use. They know that when I was in college, I experimented with marijuana, LSD, other drugs. In the last 2 decades I have smoked pot only rarely, but they have two uncles who still smoke pot, one of whom has become a kind of family joke - a good counter example. Like the other parent who wrote in, I had fun, and I don't regret it at all. I never was in a truly dangerous position, and the people I knew who WERE harmed had lots of other pre-existing problems. But I remember making fun of parents and teachers who exaggerated the dangers of marijuana - i.e. it will lead to heroin! Because my elders seemed so out of touch with my own reality of hard-working students smoking pot for fun on the weekends, I ignored everything else they said too. Now, I want to be able to give my kids the benefit of my experience and knowledge; if I tell them things that I know aren't true, they will not listen to the important stuff.
My main concern is that I do not want them to get hurt, and I tell them that. I am not going to give them the OK to drink and smoke pot while they are still underage and living at home, but I believe that as they get older, I cannot prevent them from experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and my 17-year-old has begun to do just that. I think my job must be to teach them how to do it responsibly, so that it doesn't interfere with the other things they want to do in their lives. I do my best to stay informed about what they are doing, though of course I can't know everything, and I try to make it hard for them to get their hands on drugs and alcohol. Beyond that, I just talk to them a lot and keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.
Every family has to decide for themselves how they are going to deal with drugs and alcohol. I would never suggest to anyone else that they should handle it the way I do. But I think it's useful to hear what other families are doing when you are working out your own rules, so I wanted to describe two families who've helped me formulate my rules.
One is my high-school best friend who moved to Hawaii with her husband in the early 70's to grow pot. Eventually they switched to growing coffee and have prospered as farmers over the years. They have always been and always will be hippies. They continued smoking pot, as did most of their friends. Their two sons, who are a few years older than my kids, grew up in a community where all the adults smoked pot at family social gatherings. By the time they were teenagers, these two boys were straight-A students, getting up every morning at 5 to go surfing before school. They are big and strong from working since childhood on the farm and they are the sweetest kids you ever met. This family is very close, a model for a good child-parent relationship. At 15 the younger son began having a little toke as my friend put it, every morning before going surfing. His grades started suffering (hard to pay attention if you're stoned) and my friend was in the awkward position of trying to talk her son out of doing something she herself had done every day for the past 25 years. But that is what she did. She never said don't, she just continued to remind him that if he smoked during the week, it would interfere with his schoolwork, and it is very important to him to keep his grades up. For about half of his junior year, he continued smoking in the mornings, his grades dropped, and my friend worried, and talked only of this whenever I called her. But eventually he figured things out. I think the turning point was that he realized he was a much better surfer when he wasn't stoned. Now both boys are at the University of Hawaii, doing great, and continuing to enjoy a close relationaship with their parents.
Second is a family of two boys that my kids have grown up with in Berkeley. This family lives very simply and everyone in the family has always been very active in local charities. They are my model for kind and good people - the only case I know of where two brothers get along and NEVER fight. (!) The boys have always excelled at school, and both are athletes, one of them all-star-level in two different sports. Though we are not friends socially, over the years my respect for this family has grown and grown. One of my sons is good friends with one of their boys, so I sometimes run into the mother M and we chat about our kids. When I discovered last summer that my 16-y-o son was drinking on weekends with his pals, I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I called M, expecting shock from her too, but she told me that she and her husband had realized their boys were drinking and smoking pot too. She said she disagreed with her husband's more liberal position of giving them permission to drink and smoke pot at home, but the parents had agreed on what they'd say to the boys. They had a family pow-wow and reminded them how important sports are to them, and what their long-term plans are for college, and that it is important not to jeopardize these things. They asked them to drink responsibly and never let it interfere with the things that are important to them. M told me that she knows they are drinking and smoking on the weekends, but that she also feels confident they are doing it responsibly. These boys have their own goals and their parents have always given them the responsibility for making the goals happen, so I have no doubt they are rising to the occasion in this case too.
I'm still in the middle of this, and I don't know how things will turn out, but it does seem important to hand off responsibility to my kid who will be off on his own in less than two years. He has to learn how to take care of himself, and make decisions in a smart way. I can't just shoo him out the door when he's 18 and expect him to function as an independent person if he has never had any practice doing that. My other goal: it seems just as important to be honest and non-evasive with my kids as it does with other close friends and family members. I know we don't have to tell the kids EVERYTHING, and there are times when we probably shouldn't. They don't tell us everything either. But I am hoping to have a long-term relationship with these kids, and since good adult relationships thrive on trust, respect, and honesty, it must work with your kids too.