by Dr. Randy Schroeder
My 18-year-old son wants to host a party at our house—one that includes beer. His rationale is that he and his friends will end up drinking anyway, and at least at our house I’d be in control (no driving would be allowed). This, apparently, is OK with other parents. If I say no, am I, indirectly,“forcing” them to drink at a location where I don’t know what’s going on? And if I say yes, am I caving in to his request, even though my motive is to keep everyone safe?
First and foremost, I encourage you to hold as the ultimate goal to demonstrate to your son always to strive to do what is right in God’s eyes. To that end, your Christian modeling is vital; values are more caught than they are taught. This can be an occasion to state clearly what godly behavior looks like in your household, including keeping the laws of society, respecting the parents of his friends by talking about the situation, and honoring his body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
I often tell parents that they have some control over the decisions of their child up to the age of three; beyond that, parents can only influence choices. In this situation with your son, you can, by your modeling, advice, and prayer, affect an outcome, even if you can’t control his final decision. All this is to say that telling him no to the idea of a party with beer at your house would not be forcing him and his friends to drink elsewhere. That’s a choice they will or won’t make. The fact is that saying no can work to his benefit by preparing him for life in the adult world, where we don’t always get what we want.
Initially, he might be upset. Ten years from now he will have forgotten his hurt, but not the loving example you set. I encourage you to talk with the other parents involved in the hope of presenting a united front to all the teens. With your son, choose a time when you sense he might be open to a conversation. Ask matter-of-fact, sincere, open-ended questions about how he’s making decisions, and listen carefully to his responses. Then, clearly express the Christian values that shape the rules in your house on which you will not compromise. Your actions always speak the loudest and are the best witness to your faith.