In last week’s NY Times Dining & Wine section, one columnist struggles with whether or not to allow his teenage son to drink at home – which would hopefully stop him from binging outside the home. Initially he imagined himself as a cool Euro-styled vittner, exposing his son to the joys of a fine glass of the grape stuff over dinner. Presumably, while his teenage son eloquently expounds on the difficulties of growing up in today’s media-saturated world, clearly enunciates his wants and needs, professes respect for the wondrous changes his and his classmates’ bodies are undergoing, and respectfully solicits advice from his parents.
Or, something. That’s all beside the point. I actually want to share a fact that he found in his ponderings:
I found ample evidence of the dangers of abusive drinking. Recent studies have shown that heavy drinking does more damage to the teenage brain than previously suspected, while the part of the brain responsible for judgment is not even fully formed until the age of 25.
“If we were to argue that responsible drinking requires a responsible brain, theoretically we wouldn’t introduce alcohol until 25,” said Dr. Ralph I. Lopez, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Weill-Cornell Medical College who specializes in adolescents.
Huh! I don’t know about you, but as someone who is approaching the quarter-century mark, that is a huge relief. You know? I’ve felt like I had an unformed brain of a baby, but it’s reassuring for a doctor to confirm the fact for me.
Last Saturday night (morning) when I was blackout drunk and calling the director of All Things Considered (yes, that All Things Considered. for real.) John Whitey Whitey Whitey (this is not, in fact, his name)… my judgment was called into question.
But it wasn’t my fault! My judgment mindgrapes aren’t fully formed. Phew!!! What a relief.
The columnist, who is presumably well over 25, arrives at this conclusion:
Although the issue is not settled in my household, my cautious opinion now is that my teenage sons have more to gain than to lose by having a taste of wine now and then with dinner. By taste, I mean just that: a couple of sips, perhaps, not a full glass, and decidedly not for any of their friends, whose own parents must make their own decisions.
The years between ages 15 and 25 are dangerous straits, and it doesn’t help to know that alcohol is associated with many of the hazards young adults face. Finding that sweet spot between sanctimony and self-centered frivolity is a parent’s job. I think I’m there, but it’s not quite comfortable.
Um? Does anyone ACTUALLY think that a 25 year-old should still be actively parented? That it is a parent’s job to make ANY decisions for a 25 year-old?
Oh, btw Mom and Dad… it’s totally your own fault that NPR is going to deny your membership next time around. Shouldn’t have let me have that wine with dinner. For shame.