Mom Who Let Her 13-Year-Old Get Drunk at Home Shouldn't Go to Jail

wine glassesHere's a tough one. A mother has been arrested because cops say she gave her 13-year-old son alcohol. But Chastity Lee Cravens didn't throw a party with a bunch of drunken teenagers. She didn't even give her son a bottle of booze and walk off. Cops say mother and son got drunk, together, at the kitchen table. 

Now mom is facing charges of felony child abuse. Does this sound like child abuse to you?


I'm not so sure. 

I don't think Cravens sounds like a perfect parent here. She apparently called 911 when she found her kid passed out in his room, which is a bit much. Not to mention she had two other young kids sleeping in the house.

That said, it sounds like she would have been arrested even if he hadn't passed out because giving alcohol to a minor is illegal in Utah -- even your own kid. I have to say I'm a little concerned with the notion that letting your teenager get drunk in the safety of your home equates to felony child abuse.

You see, I was raised in one of those households where alcohol was not provided, but it wasn't withheld either. I had small tastes of wine with dinner as a tot, and as I got older, my parents might offer me a frozen cocktail on a holiday.

But the drinking moment I really remember from my teenage years is that first time I got good and drunk on orange juice and vodka. 

I. Was. Hammered!

And when my mother woke me up after a nap, I was miserable, but she made me go out to dinner with the family anyway to prove a point.

It was one of the best lessons about alcohol I think I could have had as a kid. Too much = horrible headache and roiling stomach.

In the years since, I've talked to more than a few parents who got good and drunk at least once at home as a teenager. They did it in the safety of their own homes, and their parents were generally aware that it was happening. It's a lesson that's stuck with them, so much so that a few have allowed their own children to get drunk once just to teach them that same lesson.

My kid is only 8, so we haven't gone that route, but I have thought long and hard about how to really demonstrate how devastating alcohol can be to her system when she's old enough to handle it.

There is never really a good time for a teenager to get drunk, is there? But I can think of some really bad ones: when they're about to get behind the wheel of a car, perhaps, or when they're a new kid at college, hanging out with a bunch of kids they don't know. Doing it at home, with your parents right there? That's about as good a time as any, in my book.

What do you think of parents who let their kids get drunk to teach them a lesson? Is that child abuse?


Image via Dinner Series/Flickr

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