As a mom, I have been given many titles over the years: the quirky mom, the dependable mom, the strangely embarrassing mom, the annoying mom, the room mom, the blunt and unfiltered mom and even the recovering helicopter mom. However, the one thing I may never be called is the “Cool Mom” – and I am OK with that.
How did I become so uncool? Quite frankly, it seems to stem from my conservative views when it comes to underage parties. My uncoolness became even more apparent when I was having dinner with a few friends and family. Typical when parents get together, the discussion of the night turned towards our kids with the topic focusing on upcoming proms, graduation and the parties that follow.
With my son, smack dab in the middle of these activities, questions were asked whether I was going to let him host his own party where alcohol might be served. I realized from the other responses to that same question, little camps were now forming around the table — “cool moms” OK with it and the “uncool moms” who were against it. As it turns out, I might be uncoolest of them all.
For the past 18 years of my son’s life (particularly these last 4 years of high school), I have lectured him and had many heart-to-heart discussions about the dangers of underage drinking. He is fully aware of my position that I don’t allow him to attend parties where alcohol will knowingly be served to minors and that I will not permit him to host one himself.
Trust me, I’m not the parent with her head in the sand thinking that my child will not be tempted to participate nor attempt to sneak his way into to a high school party. Along with the hard talks about drinking and drug use, we have also had many talks about what to do if he ends up at one and how to responsibly handle it. I will not make it easy, nor give him conflicting messages when it comes to the subject of underage parties, but I want him to be equipped with life skills to deal with this issue should it happen.
As the conversation continued that evening, the familiar “it’s what we all did back when we were their age”, or “you’ve got to let them have this rite of passage” were comments trying to sway a few of us “uncool moms” into the “cool moms” camp. I wasn’t buying into the concept of the teen rite of passage and it seems that not only I have been labeled “uncool” by my son and his friends, but worse, I have been labeled “uncool” my some of my own peers.
The stories about their own children’s parties and how they tried covering them up and subsequently getting caught, I admit, were hysterical. There was the story about the parents who came home early from an out-of-town trip only to find a few couples sneaking out the window to avoid the embarrassment of getting caught. Another couple told us about how they found pictures documenting a party that made the ones in Hollywood movies look tame. And one from a mom whose story included her sons hiring her cleaning lady to clean up all the evidence before the she returned from a weekend away (the boys got caught only because the house was cleaner then when she left).
Even though these stories were amusing and had me laughing, at the same time they left me a bit uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because I kept thinking, what if something had terribly gone wrong? Uncomfortable because how do you go from educating your children about the dangers of underage drinking to suddenly giving them permission?
I cringe every time I hear, “well if my kids are going to experiment, I want them to do it in my house”. I once had a former neighbor who let me know that her daughter wanted to get high, so she told her daughter and her daughter’s friends they could do it at her house and she would even buy the snacks. Needless to say my children no longer hung out there. Still another parent retold the story of how her daughter was invited to a graduation party where the parents were collecting all the car keys so that no one could leave until the morning. Luckily she was in my “uncool” camp and her daughter stayed home that night.
The stories and comments make me want to scream, “WTF is wrong with you” and slap some sense back into some of the “cool moms” heads.
These caring (and many times highly educated and upscale) parents are forgetting a few things. They may be giving their children permission to drink and do other things, but when they allow it in their homes knowing other kids will be there, they have just given permission to some other parent’s child who may not be “cool” with it.
Yes, I may be a bit conservative with the values and standards I have for my own children, but I am entitled to my beliefs whether another parent agrees with me. So, as much as I appreciate each parent’s view and level of acceptance on this subject, what I don’t appreciate is some other parent bypassing my rules for my own child and giving them permission to participate in activities in their homes that I don’t allow in mine.
If being “uncool” means that I choose to say no and try my best to protect my son from the potential dangers of underage partying – DUI, addiction, bodily injury, jail, etc. – then I will embrace being the leader of the uncool moms.
I hope that in the future my own son will look back on the lessons I taught him about the consequences of underage partying and that he continues to makes good decisions. I also hope in the future when he becomes a father, that he will be a proud card carrying member of the “uncool parents”.