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Punishment and Grounding For My Drunk 17 Year Old

by Teencee
(Quincy Illinois, USA)

My 17 year old came home drunk and I don't know how to punish him for this kind of behaviour. He does know that it certainly isn't acceptable. I also have 5 other children and don't want them to know that it's ok that when they get to the same age that they can do the same.

I don't drink and I never had to deal with this kind of problem ever in my life. The only thing that comes into my mind is to ground him from the phone and TV and his music. OR is that too much??? He does have a girlfriend that is very sweet, so should I allow him to call her to tell her that I grounded him and that she wont be hearing from him for a while???

I really need some good advice on how to handle this problem I'm having. Please can some one help me????? Answer

It's not that uncommon for 17 year olds to get drunk on occasion. It doesn't make it right, but its part of the growing up process for many kids of that age. So what you don't want to be is overly strict because all you'll do is alienate your son or even cause him to rebel entirely.

When children of that age are starting to discover and experiment with alcohol - they typically have no concept of responsibility and what drinking responsibility entails. So now is the perfect time to install in your son the values of responsible alcohol consumption - because expecting him to not drink at all is unrealistic.

And then at the same time you can set boundaries and agree on what you both feel is an acceptable and responsible level of alcohol consumption - and if those boundaries are ever exceeded, what the consequences (punishment) will be.

That's not to say you shouldn't punish your son now, but what has he then really learned? All he'll start doing is going behind your back, lying to you and say he's staying over with friends - if he then wants to get drunk in future.

So you really want your son to start having a more mature attitude towards alcohol, and that process needs to be driven by you by giving him sufficient freedom to have a good time, while laying down the parameters of what acceptable drinking behavior entails.

It won't be easy but if you can get your son to buy into that, he'll learn so much more than if he's simply punished - because kids are pretty creative and find ways of doing what they want anyway to avoid getting caught.

Good Luck.

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Common Sense
by: Anonymous

To be fair, it does read like this incident is the 1st time it happened, so to be assuming an alcohol problem based on one incident is a bit over the top. Yes there should be some form of punishment, but going over the top as well won't help matters. Very few parents actually teach and expose their children to alcohol and how to use it responsibly - so its not surprising kids go to extremes when the opportunity presents itself with their friends and at parties. You're never going to stop your child experimenting and doing what many 17 year old's do - but you can absolutely drill home the message that driving under the influence is never acceptable and that if they're over the limit, to call you or just stay over, so that they never get behind a wheel when having had too much. But of course if what you've described has become an ongoing thing and your child regularly comes home drunk, then yes, you would have to handle things a bit differently and be stricter in your approach. Bottom line is though, we can't control what our children do entirely. They're resourceful and will find ways to get around things, that's why the only long-term solution is to try and get them to behave more responsibly. And using only a disciplinarian-based approach is unlikely to achieve that.

17 Son Drinking
by: Denise

I am sorry that you have to deal with this problem but so many of us are in the same boat. You are not alone!

Every child and every family is different so only YOU (and your spouse, if you have one) will know what is best in your situation.

I respectfully disagree with the previous post suggesting an acceptable level of alcohol consumption at age 17. Unless it is with the family, I wouldn't find any level but ZERO acceptable.

My husband and I have been to counselors and Al-Anon, and more structured Al-Anon types of activities regarding our own teenage son. What we have learned is that by the time one realizes their loved one may have a problem, it's probably been going on a long time. You might ask your son (in the calmest way you can) how many times he has been drinking in the past. If you say, "Was this your first time?" You may be setting yourself up for a lie. You want the truth, no matter how hard it is to hear the answer.

If your son drives, I think the most effective punishment may be no car privileges for 2 weeks or something along those lines. Want to go further? No cell phone for a week (shear torture for kids today, esp no texting!). Sometimes asking them to join you at the local Rescue Mission has a "sobering" effect on them.

I will pray for you, your son and your family. I fully understand the ramifications. Ultimately, you have done your best and it's up to them to grow up. You wouldn't have posted a plea for help if you weren't a good parent.

Keep an eye on the situation. My own son went to jail TWICE for stealing alcohol from the grocery store and then being a Minor In Possession of alcohol. It was a big punishment but we supported it and it did have positive results on him.

BTW, if you think he's drinking more often, you can purchase a home breathalizer from your local pharmacy. They run around $50 but they really work. Tell your son you're going to make him "blow" every night when he comes home. And, in addition, this is the age I would NOT let my teenager spend the night at a friend's unless I specifically spoke with the parent in charge. It is unbelievable what parents allow today in their own homes.

Best wishes,

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