‘My son drinks so much on Saturday nights that he spends the whole of Sunday sleeping on the couch.’ When I raised my eyebrows at the mother telling this, she carried on, ‘you see, he has to drink otherwise the kids can’t relax and have fun.’
I have known this mother for many years and the son she is referring to is 17 years old as still very much in high school.
Why would a mother, from a wealthy community, with a wealthy husband, bankroll her son’s drinking habits? He is the oldest of three boys and the other two are set to follow his example. What is apparent from this conversation is just how helpless this mother seems to be when it comes to setting boundaries for her children. This family is not dealing with a son who is experimenting with alcohol, instead they are dealing with a son who is forming very worrying habits regarding how what he socialized and imagines himself relaxing.
There are 52 weeks in a year and this boy is drunk almost each weekend and more often during the holidays. It is safe to assume that he is seriously drunk at least 80 times in an average year. This particular boy started this behavior at 16, so it seems to me that he has established a pretty solid drinking routine.
Where does the alcohol come from, you may ask? From home, his home or the homes of the other kids that drink like him.
The problem with drinking alcohol is that it takes decades before the drinker recognizes that he or she has a problem. Pop into any AA meeting and the average age is over 35. The drug takers however, realize pretty quickly they have a problem, which explains why drug rehabs have so many young people in their early 20s. The mother I spoke to is relieved that her son is drinking and not taking drugs. In her worrying worldview, kids will either drink or drug, and rather her son drinks than takes drugs. This is the way her mind operates.
At some level she is also extremely insecure, frightened that she will loose the love and companionship of her son if she limits his freedom. This is a mother afraid of her son and this is the heartbreaking reality of this problem. She loves him so much that she is afraid of loosing him to an argument caused by limiting his behavior. Yet she cannot look into his face and accept her role as a parent, she would rather be his friend, his buddy, chums. As his mother she has inadvertently stepped away from her responsibilities to preserve this fragmenting relationship instead of standing up and facing his rage when she says ‘No’.
By the way, this is not a single mother I am gossiping about, there is a father in the picture, and I believe he plays golf with an outstanding handicap.
This generation of parents are scared of loosing the love of children by imposing limitations on them. I say that no child that feels contained and cared for has ever wandered to far, its the ones with no idea of how far they can wander that get lost in the wilderness.