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January 12, 1998


Where was your teenager on New Year's Eve?

  Are you wondering where your teenager was on New Year's Eve? Was he or she spending the night at a friend's house? Did you call the parent to verify? If you're not sure where your son or daughter was, let me enlighten you. They could have been at my house.
   My step-son lives with my husband and me. We have four other children between us. We decided to take the younger children to my parents' cabin for a few days. My step-son was supposed to be at his mother's. He was given instructions not to enter our house while we were gone. Well, he told his mother he was going to spend the night at a friend's house. Story sounding familiar? Oh, she gave it her token effort of calling the parents to make sure it was okay, but they weren't home. Has she satisfied her responsibility? Many parents would say "sure" because they have done the same thing. The story gets better.
   As you probably have guessed by now, he didn't stay at a friend's; he came back to our house and had a New Year's Eve party. This was not your "get together" party with a few friends; in fact, his true friends didn't show up. This was total destruction. Imagine this going on in your home: kids vomiting on your carpets, Oriental rugs and inside your drawers, urinating on your floors and carpet, ruining your furniture, breaking beer bottles on your tile floor, eating all the food they could find, having sex in your beds.
   Where did they get all the alcohol? Two cases of beer, two bottles of wine, some wine coolers and an expensive bottle of champagne were stolen from my house. I don't know where the other seventeen, 33-gallon garbage can bags of beer and wine bottles came from. Are you missing any?
   My neighbor broke up the party around 1 o'clock. She said there were 100-150 teenagers. All but a few were very, very drunk. She tried calling the police, but they got called off twice for other calls. How did the kids get home? Whose house did they stay at? I don't know. Who were the kids? We got some names; and I called the parents, but there are a lot of kids that got away with this.
   Yes, we were lucky, no one got killed and nothing was stolen except for one kitchen knife but the damage that was done to my house and to my faith in teenagers, hurts. Is it their fault? I wonder. We sit back and watch the news about all the outrageous crimes being committed by teenagers and we say, "Wow, glad it's not my kid." Some of you are probably saying, "Glad it wasn't my house and my son or daughter." But your son or daughter could have been here.
   As parents, we need to work together to hold our children accountable for their actions. What's wrong with calling the parent to verify it is all right for your son or daughter to spend the night? After all, you can't tell me you wouldn't hold that parent responsible if something happened during their "Watch" to your child. I would. Shouldn't the parent be aware of that responsibility? We need to quit making excuses for them.
   We need to quit comparing our childhood with theirs. Times are different, whether we want to believe it or not. The drugs that are available now are different. People can be addicted to a drug the first time they use it. Teenagers are getting AIDS, going to school pregnant, killing each other and having parties we never thought of.
   Quit being so lazy and take responsibility for your teenager! Quit making excuses for them and make them accountable for their actions. We either pay now or pay later. To answer my question, is it their fault? Yes, it is, but it is our fault as parents if we allow it to happen.
   Why did I write this? Because I, too, thought my step-son wouldn't do this. He knows how hard we work to provide him with a nice home and comfortable life. What consequences has he had? We are selling his truck, so he has no transportation and he has lost all privileges including me making his lunch in the morning, to using the phone. He also has to read this.