We all know the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. That’s really not just some arbitrary age pulled out of the air. It’s based on a lot of research supporting the fact the human brain is still developing, that we know alcohol lowers inhibitions and that young people have enough to deal with and learn without the added pressure of the unhealthiness of excessive alcohol consumption.
Why then do some parents choose to let their children drink under the legal age? There are as many answers to this as stars in the sky. Here are a few:
“I did it. Heck, we all did it and it didn’t hurt us.”
“Kids are going to drink anyway, I’d rather have it be under my roof where I can monitor their intake”
“As long as they’re not driving, that’s the main thing”
Go back through the personal history of yours truly and I’ve readily admitted I drank underage. Isn’t it then hypocritical for me to say it’s okay? Negative. I also raced a car at 120 miles per hour and I wouldn’t suggest that, either. It was illegal and unsafe. I knowingly walked into places where drug use was happening. While walking in wasn’t illegal, I can’t think anyone would say that was healthy or safe. It may have also been considered illegal, just because of what was going on in that environment. I used to set up ramps with bricks and plywood, ride my bike as fast as I could and jump as high as I could. Illegal? No. Unsafe? Definitely. I’ve done a lot of things I wish I hadn’t. And, had I been hurt or gotten arrested, know who would have been at fault? Me. No one else, just me.
By the grace of whatever higher power you believe in, I never got hurt or in any real trouble by the law for the stupid choices I made. Yet, if I HAD hurt myself, it wouldn’t have just been me who was hurt. Physically, I could have hurt any number of other people. Emotionally, the wounds could have been even deeper for everyone who cared about me. There were laws in place (and still are, for that matter) to protect the rest of the public from our unsafe choices. That’s why we have speed limits. That’s why bars aren’t allowed to serve intoxicated patrons. That’s why you have to have special training to be licensed to ride a motorcycle. And that’s why the legal age to consume alcohol is 21.
After I was injured and disabled by a drunk driver’s choice to get behind the wheel, Mothers Against Drunk Driving guided my parents and me through legal processes. Yet, that’s not all MADD does. MADD also has a nationwide effort to prevent underage drinking.
PowerTalk 21 is a program created by MADD to help parents open the lines of communication with underage kids to help them be safe and make smart choices. April 21 is PowerTalk 21’s day to really raise the flag of awareness about this issue.
If you’re a parent, you know there can be nothing more horrible than something happening to one of your children…especially if that something could have been prevented. That is exactly what MADD hopes to do with PowerTalk 21.
For more information, please visit:
for info about talking to your son or daughter about drinking. Having this conversation could save his/her life, as well as the lives and sanity of all the others who care for your child.