Q. I’ve always told my 17-year-old son that if he wanted to have some drinks, I’d rather he drank at home than out with his friends. But, lately, he’s been bringing home his friends who are old enough to buy beer, and they have been drinking in my basement. This seems to be occurring almost every weekend now and I hate it. But how do I tell him to stop when I originally told him I would rather he drink at home?
A. IT’S VERY NORMAL, but frustrating, when teens take advantage of something their parent says in good faith. You know that saying, “You give an inch, they take a mile?” Well, this applies perfectly to how teens can react to something when it benefits them. When you made your original comment, of course you didn’t envision house parties every weekend and beer-a-plenty for your son and all his friends! But how do you renegotiate the rules now that your son has taken full advantage of your generosity? Here’s where communication comes in: It’s time to talk to your son about your expectations. Maybe you communicate that there’s a once-a-month rule for having his friends over or that he can have a total of two friends maximum for occasions where there will be alcohol involved. He may protest, but that should be expected—he has had free reign of the basement for a while, and he may not give that up without becoming angry. But, at the end of the day, it’s your house, and you care about his health and safety. So try having a candid and frank discussion and work through solutions together, and you’ll have your (mostly) peaceful weekend abode restored in no time! Good luck! ■
Kimberly Moffit is one of Canada’s most experienced relationship experts and provides practical advice about parenting and psychological topics. She’s a regular speaker for Queen’s University’s MBA and Women in Leadership Programs, and a frequent lecturer at the University of Waterloo.