Monday, July 7, 2008

How To Treat The Youth Of Today

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all

It is my daughter Hannah’s 18
th birthday today. We took her to lunch at The Hummingbird, Courtenay Place, Wellington, an award winning restaurant/cafe. The Hummingbird certainly has ambiance and it doesn’t need a jazz band for that. Being Monday, the first day of the school hols, there was no band. But the warm atmosphere, good menu and service certainly made a special day, one to remember.

My wife, Linda, suggested we bought a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. Catriona (14) had a ginger beer, which was her choice and Hannah got her first legal sips from a fine bottle of Morton Estate. She took two hours to sip her glass with the meal. There was no fuss. And she didn’t treat it as something-specially-over-the-top for she’d tasted sips at home from her mother’s wine glass from time to time over the years and sips from my cider glass (I don’t drink beer – gives me headaches).

Neither did Catriona feel that she was left out of it, though she didn’t get her usual sip, being in a restaurant would have made that illegal anyway and the proprietors would have been within their rights to throw us out on the street.


I couldn’t help but admire the mature attitude of our newly 18-year-old, while at the same time feeling some concern for the younger generation of New Zealand over matters of consumption of alcohol and moderation.

New Zealand has a youth-alcohol problem. It’s not helped by the rugby-beer-swilling culture that's so prevalent in that country, and it's exacerbated by a recent return to 18 from 20 as the legal drinking age.

Parental responsibility

As a parent and a teacher, should I feel guilty about introducing my daughter to the demon drink? Shouldn’t my wife and I have known better than to publicly allow Hannah to booze unashamedly in a restaurant? Shouldn’t I be extolling the virtues of abstinence in the face of a growing youth-alcohol problem in New Zealand?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later


Andrea said...

Happy Birthday! Hannah is beautiful!

I don't know if NZ is the same as the US, but it sounds pretty similar except that our drinking age is 21. It is very rare to find the 21 year old who has never had a drink until his or her 21st birthday.

We all know that when you make something "taboo" you increase the attraction for a LARGE number of people. If you take away the extremes, you take away some of the mystique and coolness for young people. Not all of it, but some of it. This is apparent when you compare countries in Europe that have no legal drinking age, where younger people frequently taste a sip of wine with their parents, and where there is much less of a problem with alcohol than in the US (and, I guess, NZ).
My kiddos are only 7 and 4, so we have not come to that bridge yet....and I have to go pick them up right now! So, catch you later, Ken.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't feel guilty. She had one glass and she drank it slowly so you've certainly taught her responsibility and moderation.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā korua!

As it happens I didn't feel guilty but I did wonder what factors are brought to bear on many other teenagers, and not just in New Zealand.

@Andrea - yes, it's a strange thing the effect of taboo on the young. It's almost like the 'grass is greener' effect. My kids do get the sips. They seem to be satisfied with that. When it comes to tobacco, now that's really UNCOOL and I'm please to see this happening among youngsters.

&Mathew - Hannah is one of these 'vacuum cleaner' kids - picks up everything. I don't really think I've taught her much at all. I certainly didn't teach her any Chemistry, even if it is my subject - but she got excellents right up to, and including, when she got her secondary quals in that subject.

Now she's doing Art and Sculpture and hopes to go tertiary with those next year. I'll drink to that!

Ka kite

Rose DesRochers said...

If this was her first drink then you should be proud as a parent. She's very pretty by the way.