Papa Don't Preach

Scott Kara's (rough) guide to being a father.

Scott Kara: Teaching responsible habits around alcohol

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New Zealand could raise the drinking age to 21, like in the US. But perhaps more useful would be to take on the good old US of A's culture of light beer consumption. File photo / Bay of Plenty Times
New Zealand could raise the drinking age to 21, like in the US. But perhaps more useful would be to take on the good old US of A's culture of light beer consumption. File photo / Bay of Plenty Times

When I heard about Craig Norgate's party for a hundred or so revellers before the King's College ball I was outraged. But I quickly pulled my head in.

Mine was a reaction to the tragic events that happened after the ball rather than Mr Norgate's prematch.

Because in 15 years' time I would love it if my eldest girl Mia and some of her friends felt they could pop in before the ball for a few drinks.

I'm not talking about the sort of ostentatious affair the former Fonterra man's party was (I can't afford it for starters) but a few civilised - and supervised - beers (or a shandy or light beer perhaps) for the boys and spritzers for the girls. It would be a mighty fine bonding experience.

Let me say now, I'm no angel and - like many of us - on occasion I've had a less than healthy respect for alcohol. I'm no teetotal preacher but at least I know first-hand the impact alcohol can have on one's head - and it ain't good.

So surely it's about teaching kids responsible drinking habits. The thing is, how you do that is difficult and I have no idea because I am yet to deal with it. And the thought of having to scares me. All I know is education and leading by example starts at home. Lucky then that I have a few more years yet to prepare my 'healthy respect for alcohol' sermon.

Yes, New Zealand could raise the drinking age to 21, like in the US. But perhaps more useful would be to take on the good old US of A's culture of light beer consumption.

It's big there, and while it tastes, well, weak, it might be more of a grown up solution than simply cutting off a supply. Because let's face it, they're going to get it somehow.

Crikey, if they can get their hands on cocaine - as was reported this week in regards to the King's ball - then they are going to be able to buy a dozen.

As a parent there are things you have limited control over - like peer pressure, who they are hanging out with, what they are really thinking, and what they get up to behind your back.

My wife and I have talked about converting our garage into a sleep out-cum-hangout so that they feel as though they can come around any time with their mates. Idealistic? Possibly. But it's worth a try in a bid to keep them entertained in a safe environment.

What there will be a zero tolerance for in our house is drugs. The highly addictive drugs available these days means it's a habit that can get out of hand so quickly - and there is no going back.

I look at it from this perspective. When I was in my mid- to late teens, almost 25 years ago, the most toxic thing around was a Steinlager, magic mushrooms - if they were in season - and a bit of pot. But teens these days have a vast range to choose from, such as P, Kronic (legal high anyone?), and cocaine (how the hell do they afford it?).

And it makes me wonder - and worry - about what kids will be taking to get wasted and high when it comes time for Mia to go off to her first ball. Scary stuff.

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