Ask the Experts! Do I buy alcohol for my teen to take to a party?

 

Ask the Experts is your chance to get advice from specialists/experts in the field of adolescence.  So if you've got a question/issue/conundrum around parenting teens, send it in and we will ask a specialist in that field to provide a response to be published here on the website.  Your question will remain anonymous and the advice will be tailored to the scenario presented.

It is our hope that this is another way we can help parents, help their teens...

 

Audience Question: 

What do you do if your 17 and a half year old has just been invited to a party and has been told to BYO alcohol and your teen wants you ie 'mum' to buy it for them from the liquor store. What do you do?

 

 

Expert's response: 

 

Oh gosh!  I feel for you.  This is a very difficult situation for any parent. You’ll likely want to balance being the open parent who allows their child to have some freedom and to exercise responsibility; but at the end of the day you also have to abide by the laws of our country.  For relevant state laws, please refer to https://adf.org.au/insights/secondary-supply/

 

Laws aside, your family and parental values about alcohol will play a very large role in how you manage this situation with your teenager. Most Teenagers will experiment with alcohol. If your family value is that this is okay, my advice is to help them experiment with alcohol in the safety of your home where they can be monitored and supervised.  If you're okay with them going to a party where they may access alcohol, my advice is to educate them on safe partying.

 

In my experience, it generally doesn't work to tell a teenager simply ‘don’t drink’, particularly if they want to or if this has been modelled in the family home.   Additionally, if they perceive that all of their friends are drinking, they’ll feel more inclined to participate.  So, instead of saying an outright ‘no’, you might have more success with educating them on safe partying.  Opening a discussion around the following questions may also act as a deterrent in a non-combative way by helping them to realise the potential risks involved. For example: How do they stay physically safe?  How do they ensure they don't drink too much that they become ill?  How will they get to and from the party?  How do they ensure they don't embarrass themselves in front of other people when they're intoxicated? 


Most importantly I think, is to teach them what to do if someone is in trouble. It is safe and okay to call an ambulance, should one of their friends become unconscious because of alcohol.  Many teenagers think that this is not a good idea for fear that police will be called.  Police are only called if violence or aggression is involved; otherwise, medical emergencies stay with the ambulance service. 

 

So, to answer your question about buying alcohol for your 17 year old: depending on your state, this might be against the law and it is important to explain this to your teen.  But, I'm also a realist. If you don't supply and buy the alcohol for them, it's possible they will source it elsewhere.

 

It would also be worthwhile contacting and having a discussion with the parents who are hosting the party to find out if there will be alcohol served and to discuss your values and your objections, should there be any and to ensure that this parent is abiding by the law also.   

 

For some helpful discussions on alcohol and your teen including supply laws in Australia visit:  www.drinkwise.com.au

“There are two types of laws governing underage drinking:

  • Australian liquor laws: the legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years. All states and territories prohibit people under this age to purchase alcohol or consume alcohol in licensed premises or in public places.
     
  • Secondary supply laws: the laws regarding the supply of alcohol to minors differ between states and territories. Parents and adults need to be aware of these laws, particularly in regard to common occurrences such as hosting a teenage party in the family home or having your child stay over at a friend’s place”. [https://drinkwise.org.au/parents/even-with-parental-consent-is-it-ever-ok-to-give-a-teen-a-drink/]

 


Expert bio: Davina Donovan is a practicing Psychologist, with over 10 years of industry experience.  She is also an author, speaker, researcher, educator and consultant with a special interest and experience in Teenagers, Parenting and Suicide. Davina has seen and heard just about everything when it comes to Teens: the good, the bad and the ugly. For years, Davina has listened to Teenagers tell her things they would not dream of telling their parents; all the while, supporting parents as they watch on helplessly, feeling fear, guilt and anger.   Davina has the unique skill of ‘Speaking Teen’ and has a passion for empowering parents and Teenagers to remain connected during the inevitable challenges that arise in the Teenage years. You can find Davina at Speak Teen as well as in the Exploring Teens Directory

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