Teen Drinking

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Parents Don't Believe Teen Wasn't Drinking Q:I'm 16, and my mom and my stepdad went out of town for the weekend. I was supposed to stay with my dad while she was gone, however, my friend, Dan, invited me to stay the night at his house; I told my mom and my dad I was staying at my friend's house. Well, I couldn't get a hold of him, so I called another friend to stay at my house. So my friend is over at my house, and I'm looking for some pants in my closet when I find an old, old bottle of vodka from like 2 years ago that my cousin gave to me. I brought it downstairs to show my friend. I don't drink because I'm against it and my friend died because he drove drunk. I was going to throw it out the next morning, but low and behold, my mom and stepdad get home early the next morning and find the bottle on the counter and accuse me and my friend of drinking.

I told her we weren't, she didn't believe me, then she told me that I lied about staying with Dan¾ but it wasn't my fault because he forgot I was staying with him. The first thing my stepdad says is, "Give me your license, you won't be driving for a while." So I can't drive just because my friend forgot about me and I was getting rid of alcohol. I have a sister who, when she was 14, moved out and lived with my real dad because my mom got into a fist fight with her. Imagine that, a grown woman getting into a fist fight with her daughter. She is doing the exact same thing she did to my sister¾ she is accusing me of things that I didn't do and being way too strict. I would live with my dad but then I'd have to change schools and I'm already in my junior year and I want to graduate at my old high school.

What should I do or tell my mom? She's out of control, doesn't understand that kids are kids, and on top of that, I wasn't even drinking! I know it all seems too coincidental to have a bottle of vodka from two years ago that I didn't drink, but it's true, and my parents won't believe me.

A:First off, you say you don't care. I don't believe you! Because if you truly didn't care, you wouldn't have written! So you're a lot farther on the road to getting this resolved than you think. Even if you're the only one in your family reaching out for help, that's a start. It has to begin with someone, and from what you've written, I'm glad you reached out.

I understand your frustration about this situation. You have to remember, though, you did get caught with a "smoking gun." Honestly, can you blame them for thinking you were drinking? Look at it this way: At least you got rid of that nasty bottle of Vodka that was hanging out in your closet. It was bound to be discovered by someone, and if your parents had found it in your closet, I guarantee they would have come to the same conclusion. So at least you don't have to worry about getting caught with alcohol anymore.

And I commend you for not drinking! Keep that attitude, and I promise you that you will be a better and stronger person for it, not only for yourself, but for your friends, too.

Now, let's see if I can help you out. You say your cousin gave you the bottle two years ago. Can you get your cousin to verify this with your parents? That will show them you're telling the truth about that. Next, was the bottle opened? Was there any Vodka gone? If so, why wouldn't your parents think you or your friend drank it? Yes, I have to admit, parents tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to thinking the worst before they know the truth. But you have to understand that 1. they were teens once and are probably afraid you might do what they did, 2. when they freak out over these kinds of things, it tells you that they truly care about you. Now don't shut me out on this! Honestly, if your parents didn't care, and many don't, you would be able to run all over town, and no one would ever notice when or if you ever came home. Think about it.

Yes, your parents sound very strict. And maybe taking your license away was harsh. But you have to understand, if they think you're drinking, they should take your license away! But you weren't drinking, and now you need to convince them of that. Get your cousin to talk for starters. Then see if you can get your parents to sit and talk with you. No fighting. No arguing. Tell them that you agree, it did look bad, but you weren't drinking. You may have to go without your license for awhile, and I know it makes you mad. But use this time to keep showing them that you're truthful, responsible, dependable, and not a partier. Be patient. It will take some time, but don't take a "I don't give a damn" attitude, or else you'll find yourself riding the bus until you're 30! You know the truth, and it's not always easy to get others to believe it, too. Yes, parents can be slow to get it at times. But if we keep looking up at the sky and see blue, day after day, one day we are convinced it's blue. Same with you. Keep being a good kid, don't lose your cool, and one day they will see it. But you have to see it from their view, too.

That said, if your parents are truly out of control, go tell someone! Maybe you can get someone to intervene and you and your family can get some counseling and some relief from the anger and turmoil. If it's becoming physical at home between you and your mom or stepdad, maybe you should revisit the thought of living with your dad. I know you don't want to change schools, but you can't live in a violent home. Can you get your mom to go to counseling or a parenting class? Is there something you can attend with her? You can't change her, but maybe you can help her understand she needs help.