Mother: “My son (15) regularly goes to parties at children’s homes in the evening, where about 25 children come, half of whom stay overnight. Those kids are about fourteen, fifteen years old. Partly due to social media, my son also befriends friends of friends, which is why constantly changing groups arise. I often do not know the children and the parents where he is going. It has happened a few times now that those parents just aren’t there at night, and don’t even sleep at home. They sleep in a hotel or with friends and hand over their house.
“I often read through my son’s group app that alcohol is taken to those parties, and strong drink too: vodka. And weed. They can’t drink out of the house before they turn eighteen, so they do it at home. I notice that as soon as their children go to sixteen, parents become double in that, it seems as if they don’t mind it so much. Recently a parent had even bought a case of beer. To my child I say, ‘I don’t want you to use anything, and if you do, tell me.’
“I recently called a father and asked if he knew that alcohol would be taken. He then went home only at half past one in the morning, a child was hanging out of the window puking; police there. I find it difficult: if I pass it on to the parents, my son may have problems with it. Who is responsible?”
Name is known to the editor. The section Educated is anonymous, because difficulties in education are sensitive.
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Not for nothing
Bass Delivery: “The increase in the minimum age has not come for nothing. Alcohol is very harmful to the brain in growth. Research also shows that if you want to reduce the risk of addiction in the future, you should postpone its use for as long as possible. This puts an end to the typically Dutch approach of ‘we let them get used to alcohol at home with an occasional beer or wine diluted with water’.
“But you are dealing with an age group that wants and has to experiment in order to be able to go into the world independently. And nowadays we not only want an open relationship with our children, we are also condemned to it. Information about where they hang out and what they do has to come from them. Yet it all starts with your child realizing how important it is to be really careful with it. In addition, you also look at the signals: do you smell alcohol, do you smell cigarettes? Does his behavior change?
I would call the parents myself to ask if they know what is happening in their house, but I would first ask my son whether he has any objections. If he doesn’t want it, don’t do it.”
Tisha Neve: “It is good that the law is in place, but it has become difficult for parents to maneuver. Because there is drink in circulation and experimentation is part of it at that age. Addressing other parents about alcohol in the house is difficult, because everyone thinks differently about it.
“The conversation you should have with your child is: ‘How are you going to do that if everyone there drinks/ takes a pill/ starts smoking? How do you say ‘no’ when they call you a wimp? How do you keep to our agreements? When have you reached the limit and are you leaving?’
“Because those resources will not pass by at this party, or at another time where you are not present. That may be an open conversation, ‘I used to drink a beer myself because everyone else did’. Recognizing that those situations can be difficult will likely make it easier for your child to share what’s happening with you.
“Certainly with children under the age of sixteen, you stay close as parents when they are throwing a party. But even after that, you still keep your finger on the pulse.”