I was listening to tone of the segments on the Today Show one morning, and one of the panelists was commenting whether there should be a statewide lockdown of pubs/bars at 1.00am? The reason was because she felt that it would protect the children from getting too drunk and harming themselves.

Is this a good idea?

I understand that teenagers going to the pub/bar is one of the most challenging issues that parents face, and even tougher for migrant parents. But before we answer this question, let’s dwell a bit more about this point… I was thinking… Why should parents have to rely on the law/government to “discipline” and “control” their children?

I have to admit, the alcohol environment is one area where I am not very comfortable. Firstly, I was not brought up in this ‘alcohol’ culture, and secondly, I don’t drink, so I probably would not appreciate this aspect of entertainment with alcohol.

Thus my approach is: wouldn’t there be more fun and beneficial ways of socialising, such as a nice cozy cafe? Restaurant? Park? Volunteering etc? Why does it have to be in an environment filled with alcohol?

Another issue related to this topic is parental influence. Why should parents rely on the “law” to control or help set the boundaries of their children?

If this is the case, questions have to be raised:

  • Was there a lack of connections between the parents and their children – thus lack of communication?
  • Two sides: were you are unable to set boundaries or your children would not listen to you?

In order for you to be able to influence your children, firstly you need to have strong bonding and good relationships with them. When you have strong connections with your children, your children feel heard, valued and loved.

Only then they will want to:

  • Make you proud and happy with them, thus they are more willing to cooperate.
  • To listen to your opinion and suggestions, i.e. greater influence
  • Be willing to negotiate boundaries through respectful discussions.

From my own experiences, I have to admit that I have a bias opinion about bars and alcohol, and naturally my opinion was biased when my children were going to out to meet friends at those locations.

It took a lot of negotiation, thinking and communication before I could relax with that idea. The “biased” challenge sounded something like this:

  • Why clubbing?
  • Why can’t you guys think of places like restaurants, cafes etc?
  • I am not comfortable about the time you are coming home?

and the more “relaxed” outcome of negotiations went something like this:

  • Level of alcohol consumption, while giving a long lecture of the importance of the liver etc
  • How to protect themselves with regards to drink spiking
  • Transportation back home
  • Keeping their phones handy etc

Once the negotiations were done and agreed, both parties felt that we had achieved a milestone. The parents were more relaxed and open to see the children’s view point and needs, despite our own reservations of the matter. The teenagers were then more willing to check in with our cultural values, and how much it had impacted our judgement about the different lifestyles.

It is our job as parents to:

  • Establish healthy and strong relationships with our children
  • Be willing to meet their needs by paying attention to what they have to say
  • Be willing to bend and negotiate despite our own cultural upbringing and allow our children to adapt to the new lifestyle in their new adopted country, but still maintaining our cultural heritage.

When our children feel heard, valued and loved, they will reciprocate the loving feelings back to us with respect and negotiating boundaries.