When living in Sweden, I was amazed at the ads run by Systembolaget (state-supervised chain of liquor stores). They showed a picture of a teenager and the text underneath said something along the lines of Visit our homepage for good excuses, if you don’t want to supply your teens with alcohol. Systembolaget even published a guide for parents Tonårsparlören, where the main point was advice on how to avoid buying your kids booze.
To my perhaps very old-fashioned and authoritarian eyes, it seems odd that you should need an excuse for something that’s already forbidden by law (=supplying an under-aged person with alcoholic substances).
The fact that some Swedish parents struggle with questions like these is an oddity, which I’ve come across many times – not only in Sweden. In some families there seems to be a constant negotiation going on between parents and kids, and the fact that you’re a parent is not enough to establish authority – not even when it comes to breaking the law or not.
Perhaps it’s just my sultry Finnish demeanour, but in our household, we don’t negotiate with the kids. Sure, we might sometimes ask what they think about certain issues, and listen to their viewpoints, but there is no question about who makes the decisions.
Frankly, I think you’re failing your kids if you put the burden on them. I would rather have them tell their friends (whose parents might be less rigid) Sorry, I can’t drink because my mom would kill me if I did or No, I could never ask my dad to buy me anything – he would freak out.
That means letting them off the hook and putting the blame (and responsibility) where it should lie: on the parents. It sort of comes with the territory, folks.