It should be an easy question. Is it OK for someone else to buy your teenager alcohol? What if something goes wrong when your child is drunk? Whose fault is it?
Well, a teenage boy is dead after cops say he got drunk and wandered into a roadway where he lay down and was struck by an oncoming car. And now it's up to a prosecutor to decide if two women, both aged 22, are responsible for letting a 16-year-old get hold of alcohol at their party. The women could be on the hook for Tyler Gonzalez' death.
But is that fair? Is his death their faults?
It's a tricky question. My teenage years aren't so far behind me that I can't remember what it was like to get someone older to buy the booze. Usually those people were just a few years older -- legally adults but not someone else's parent.
We always swore up and down that we wouldn't let anything go wrong, that the alcohol would never be traced back to them, that they wouldn't get in trouble. The actual act of wandering off in a drunken haze seems to be the 16-year-old's, not that of the women. They didn't lay him in the road.
And yet, here I sit. I'm an adult. I'm a parent. And if someone gave my daughter alcohol without my permission, I would be livid.
If -- God forbid -- that someone gave my daughter alcohol and then failed to supervise her when she acted like your typical drunk teenager, I would be out for blood.
The decision of when kids are "ready" to try alcohol is a pretty personal one. I was raised by parents who tried to teach us about "responsible" drinking. We were allowed a few sips over the years because they didn't want alcohol to be this great taboo that we went wild with at some party. The idea was that we would be under their careful watch when we had our first drink, so they could prevent the type of horror that happened to Tyler Gonzalez.
To their credit, it worked. I wasn't a perfect angel, but I never made any major mistakes with alcohol as a teenager. My husband and I have talked about following a similar path.
We want to keep a watchful eye over her when she has her first drink. We want to teach her responsibility.
Other adults don't have the same investment in our kids that we do. They might be well-meaning, but their follow-through is bound to be lacking. And that's what causes the real trouble: when a kid doesn't know how to drink, and there's no one to protect them from themselves. Unfortunately, what happened to Tyler Gonzalez is exactly what comes of some random adult giving a random kid booze.
What would you do if someone else bought your child alcohol? Would you have them arrested?
Image via Greencolander/Flickr