EDITORIAL: Parents need to talk tough

Drinking drivers tend to be younger in spring around graduation time.

At least twice each year we see a real push from police against drinking and driving. Once at Christmas and again in the spring.

At Christmas, age is not a consideration for police, but in springtime, the target group is clear.

Drinking drivers tend to be younger in spring around graduation time. They are, frequently, young men experiencing what some would call the rites of passage.

Drinking and driving, however, isn’t a rite, it’s a crime – one with deadly consequences.

More than two years ago the province introduced Canada’s toughest impaired driving laws and the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths went down by half.

But drinking alone is still a threat to our youth, whether they get behind the wheel of a car or not. From risky sexual behaviour to an increase in physical and sexual assaults to death from alcohol poisoning, the risk to youth from excessive alcohol use or drinking to get drunk, is real.

With any luck, the days of parent-sanctioned “wet” grad parties are a thing of the past.

With more parents and students concentrating on dry grad activities that have youth celebrating in a safe, non-alcohol fuelled atmosphere, one would think the old hay field parties of yore have been left in the past. But some parents still believe in the old adage, ‘kids are going to drink anyway, so we’ll just make sure they don’t drive.’

That is a difficult stance to take when, as a parent, you’ve spent the last 18 years of your child’s life trying to teach them right from wrong. Then you’re telling them that wrong is OK, as long as mom or dad says so.

As parents, it’s our job to make the tough decisions – even if they are not the most popular ones with our kids. All their lives we’ve made decisions for our children based on what we think is best for them. We’ve denied them sugary cereals. We’ve made them eat their broccoli. We’ve strapped unwilling toddlers into car seats, because it’s the safest way for them to ride.

It may not be the easiest thing you’ve done lately, but convincing your teen that drinking alcohol to celebrate is not a necessity and could bring them harm in ways other than the risk of driving drunk will make everyone feel better in the morning.