Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.
There are two ways in doing this: (1) tell them what is right and what is wrong, or (2) provide the strong foundations of logically deduction. We classify the first option as the precautious approach while the latter is the faith based approach. Let me put it this way: The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. If you hold on to the bicycle the whole time, he will eventually believe he can actually ride; only to be proven wrong at some point when either you finally let go or he/she screams for “some space”. Of course, if you never support him, he will keep on falling till he gives up on riding.
So striking that balance, there lies the essence of good parenting. Neither telling the children to NEVER drink alcohol or buying him his first drink is not going to prevent him from becoming a potential alcoholic. Rather, teach him to appreciate the social dynamics, peer pressure and the health hazards from excessive consumption. End of the day, he must be able to logically conclude what responsible consumption of alcohol entails. To understand what to drink, when to drink and most importantly why to drink. If he enjoys alcohol in any form, he should be able to ask himself what are the reasons he does so, and what circumstances he does so.
In my opinion, alcohol gets risky when you need more to feel good. If you can’t do that anymore on your own, and you use the alcohol for it, at a certain point you run the risk of starting to drink more and more each time to still feel the effects. This can be the beginning of an addiction. If you drink to feel good, you should ask yourself if you can also feel at ease without alcohol. Hence, the underlying reason could be that someone is just unhappy about life and alcohol puts back that excitement and exhilarates you . But, parents think for a minute, isn’t it because you have been neglectful of your child’s emotions that he has have been driven to such measures. His parents must be there to support him when life throws a curve ball, but remember to support and not to shield him or take the hit for him.
So, when you say “do not consume alcohol” and try to enforce such rules with human or divine sanctions, are we really saying “I am sorry I have a busy life and don’t really have much time to spend to guide and counsel you so don’t do X1, X2, X3 because it is bad for you”.
Bear in mind that your child is not the average joe, alcoholic, slut, criminal etc. These are just other children with bad parents unable to strike that elusive balance all parents must stride for. Maybe that’s why parents are afraid and impose such stringent rules, not because it is good for their children but rather to curb them from being bad parents and face failure.
Honestly, that is why no matter how great my life is now (being a bachelor with a great job and options with different women), I can’t wait till its my turn. Because, I do believe that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent. And, no academic degree or two or professional career can be as demanding and rewarding as raising a good child [or 11 in my case :-)]
My best advice to parents: teach your children how to think and let them go, they will make you proud.