Would you give your teen a breathalyzer test?

drinking-and-drivingI was cruising on the net this morning and came across this. I know we’ve talked about teens drinking before and I think we are all pretty much in agreement that we don’t hide alcohol and keep it a deep dark secret but neither would we encourage it.

I’ve heard of giving teens a breathalyzer test before but never really read about it.  On one hand I can see it in some of these situations as being useful.  I know there can be a lot of trouble at school dances when a group of kids arrive drunk so I can see that this would help that for the kids who aren’t and are there to have a good time.

But would I have done this and given my kids one?  If I’d suspected a problem I probably would have. I mean, if you thought something was going wrong with your child, wouldn’t you want to find out what it was?  I’m nosy as all get out too so I would have wanted to know. You can’t try and fix a problem that your not willing to face. You can’t bury your head in the sand if there is a serious problem brewing.

I’ve heard my boys tell me so many things that they did while growing up and I “thought” I knew it all. I was very active in their lives and I “knew” where all the parties were.  I even followed Jason a couple of times because he’d been caught lying and I was worried BUT they still “fooled” me many times.  So it just goes to show you, kids will try and get away with things and a lot of times they do but I tried very hard to be involved.

I just had one question after reading this article.  It says that parents where checking their kids breath when they came home at night.  Isn’t that kind of backwards?  What the heck good does it to check it once they’re home?  They could have already been and done who knows what??  I might have been waiting in my car outside wherever they were and checked it BEFORE they came home. Especially if they were driving.

Would you or wouldn’t you?

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24 Responses to Would you give your teen a breathalyzer test?

  1. SKL says:

    These questions always kind of throw me, because I was such a prude as a teen, and I would have been incensed if my parents had tried to test me for substances. I never, ever tasted alcohol without my parents’ knowledge, never tried drugs, etc. So, you may say, why would I mind being tested – but that is a very sensitive age. I took every mild question as an accusation or attack. I still remember the time my mom asked me why I spent so much time alone in my room – was I smoking weed or what? I’m pretty sure my reaction is why she never made that kind of statement to me again. My feeling was, what was the point of doing the right things if I was going to be treated the same way as kids who screw up?

    Yet, just because I was a prude doesn’t mean my kids will be. My sister, whom I practically raised, has admitted to at least drinking alcohol as a teen, though it never got her in trouble. I know my kids will try to do some things behind my back – whether they will be dangerous or not, I can’t predict.

    I think it makes sense for schools to test as a routine requirement for admission into dances, etc. and privileges such as playing sports. If they could do it in a way that doesn’t seem to imply guilt without evidence, I believe I’d support it. But as for myself doing the testing, I can only see that happening if there has already been an offense. I think there’s something to be said for treating our teens like the mature individuals we hope they are becoming – at least until they prove otherwise. And also, there’s something to be said for letting them make “some” mistakes and learn from them. I think the key is to be very alert, and talk to them a lot, in the hope that the mistakes they do make won’t be too damaging.

  2. Amber says:

    I absolutely would give my child, my husband, my friend, or anyone else I suspected of being over the limit a test. It is my duty as a citizen and as a moral responsible adult to do so. Period.

  3. Most kids don’t get drunk until after they leave the house though, so giving them the test before they leave for the party wouldn’t be that effective. I think that parents should just not make drinking the worst and scariest thing in the world – because then kids want to go out and do it, the rebellion of it and all.
    Alcohol was never a hidden thing in my home – neither of my parents drank almost at all, but my dad had a bloody-mary once in a while and my mom would have a glass of wine with dinner every six months or so. I never grew up thinking alcohol was this forbidden, hidden thing. I knew I was underage, and when I first started drinking [the age restriction here is 18 by the way, not 21] I did i with a group of friends, got a raging headache, and have drunk moderately, if at all, since.
    I think that if my parents had made a bigger deal of alcohol, I probably would have made a bigger deal of it as well and tried it earlier or more often.

  4. mssc54 says:

    When our oldest daughter was less than a month from her 18th birthday she came home late from her curfew. This was extremely rare for her. She was a “good kid”. In fact she had never… ever, even been grounded before.

    Well, when she came in I knew she had been drinking. She denied, she denied, she denied. Until I said, “Okay, let’s go to the emergency room. I’ll have them do a blood test. If it shows you haven’t been drinking I’ll pay for the visit. If the test shows you have been drinking, you pay for the visit.”

    She fessed up and was grounded for a month.

  5. Just a Mom says:

    I like mssc54’s idea. I have a habit of doing things like that to my kids anyway. Ex: Why did you get in trouble at school? I can either call your teacher or you can tell me!

    Growing up my brother and I were allowed to drink at home but we could not go anywhere afterwards and we were not allowed to have friends over.
    I was a goody two shoes when I was a kid. The worst thing I did behind my parents back was smoke. My brother on the other hand was the one to hang out with the wrong crowd. He never actually did drugs until my father took him to a rehab center and had him tested which came back clean of course. Then he got it into his head, “Well if they are going to accuse me of it I might as well do it.”

  6. Tessa says:

    SKL, I totallly agree with you. You have to show trust that your kids will do the right thing. Doing this to your kid shows a lack of trust. If you don’t trust them, then you as a parent need to change something your doing. Unless against religious beliefs you brought the child up in, teenagers will drink! Without a doubt the majority do and will.

    Slightlyignorant, I think you are so right on. If our society didn’t make it such a big deal, than kids wouldn’t want to do it so bad. Teens want to do things that are forbidden. I will make sure my kids grow up knowing it is okay in moderation, and tell them what a lot of alcohol will do to them, and by example show them this.

  7. Tessa says:

    Although, with the Buddhist religion, I am starting to see that drinking does not make sense, so I may stop altogether by the time my kids are old enough and explain to them why drinking is wrong. But I plan on raising my babe with religion and I think that definitely makes a person smarter about decisions when you have God as the center of your life.

  8. Tessa says:

    mssc and justamom, I like your style 🙂

  9. nikki says:

    I think kids will do what they want when there out with there friends. It is our job to instill good values and good decision making. No matter how hard we try that though, kids can and will disobey. It doesn’t make them bad kids, it makes them normal, they are testing their boundaries. So you have to give them boundaries.
    I’m sorry but I’d rather give my kid a breathalyser test and be safe than trust them 100% (which I think is just being naive) than be sorry and have something bad happen. I don’t drink at all anymore and Jason has a drink like once a year now, I hope Bailey sees that and learns that it is just bad all around. Chances are though that he will try it, but he will now the consequences. I do not think religion makes you a smarter person in decision making. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt but Bailey does not have religion in his life and I have a good feeling he will make good decisions. It’s what his father and I instill in him that will help him in his journey through life. I’m with Amber, I would give anyone I know a breathalyser test if that meant they made it home safe.

  10. Joy says:

    I’m sorry Tessa but I have to say this. I didn’t understand one thing you said. Every paragraph says something different. I’m sitting here thinking “HUH?? What did she say??”

  11. nikki says:

    Tessa you said this…If you don’t trust them, then you as a parent need to change something your doing. Then in the next sentence you say this…teenagers will drink! Without a doubt the majority do and will?? Sounds like a contradiction to me.

  12. Tessa says:

    I meant like SKL said, if you test a kid that has not drank than you are showing lack of trust making the kid feel like why be good then if they think I’m bad? But, if you know for sure they were drinking, that’s a different story! Even though the majority drink, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust your kid.

  13. Tessa says:

    Joy, I’ve got a few different ideas since I have not been there as a parent! I’m open to a few options and I’ll see when the time comes!

  14. joanharvest says:

    I never worried too much about my kids drinking. For some strange reason neither one of my children drank much and never drank and drove. I had the strict rule that if they drank, call me and I would pick them up, no questions asked. I also think that my son wouldn’t ever drink and drive because one night 5 of his friends were killed in a horrible car accident and the driver had been drinking and offered my son a ride home and my son refused because he didn’t want to drive with them.

    Unfortunately my son started taking prescription drugs when he was about 19 years old and he has benn fighting that demon ever since. When I finally caught on I did drug test him after he detoxed and he later told me that the drug testing is what kept him clean. I drug tested him daily and told him that if he ever tested positive he would be out of my house and he knew I meant it.

  15. SKL says:

    Joan, I have a good friend, a dad, who did the same thing with his son. First his son screwed up and came to his dad (non-custodial parent at the time) for help in getting his life back on track. Dad is an HR exec so he had access to pee tests and he used them randomly on his son. A positive test would mean no more room & board at dad’s house. It was understood why this was necessary and it did help the young man straighten up. That said, I still don’t believe I’d do it to a teen who hadn’t gotten into trouble as far as I knew.

  16. SanityFound says:

    Ok I shouldn’t be gone I see because this thread just blew me away. How testing your kid for alcohol turned into a topic of religions confuses me considering that I have known so many kids brought up in families of “God” that a) do drugs b) do heavier drugs c) drink till they fall over d) or worse feel that because they are “one on one” with God through their family being better than the sinners that they will be forgiven.

    “Unless against religious beliefs you brought the child up in, teenagers will drink” Sorry I have lived in some really orthodox cities, towns, suburbs and homes… normally they are the worst drinkers… I talk from experience, not from one place in time but many different ones.

    I am sorry but bringing your child up in a religion thinking that it will prevent or at least lessen the chances of deviance is dangerous. If anything it will do exactly what you said you wish to prevent by not giving your child a breathalyzer test. The regiment of religion as discussed here will encourage rebellion.

    So many different statements all contradicting the other. Point of fact is that a child needs to know the dangers of what each substance can do for them. They should know the consequences of their actions if they were to do them accept them should they take place. No burning in hell but perhaps jail time, drinking and driving then watching your best friend in the passenger seat bleeding to death on your lap… consequences…

  17. Jane says:

    Okay, thank you SanityFound. I thought I was the only one who read those statements like that and being Joy’s relative, I didn’t want to say anything about them. That’s why I didn’t comment yesterday.

    First I read this “I will make sure my kids grow up knowing it is okay in moderation, and tell them what a lot of alcohol will do to them, and by example show them this.” And then I read this “Although, with the Buddhist religion, I am starting to see that drinking does not make sense, so I may stop altogether by the time my kids are old enough and explain to them why drinking is wrong.” So, I wasn’t sure what I was reading or thinking I “missed” something.

    Religious people can be the worst. They seem to think whatever they pound into their kids heads will be listened to but it’s quite the opposite. Those kids get out in the real world and they don’t know the first thing to do. They want to “try” everything that their parents told them NOT to do and end up really hurt and worse. One of my really good friends from high school lost her brother of 17 in a car accident and their dad was our minister. There was no alcohol allowed in their homes so they drank it whenever they went anywhere and didn’t understand any consequences. They just turned wild when not with their parents. When with them, they acted all goody goody.

    I’m also not quite sure how this thread turned into religion or Buddha???

  18. SKL says:

    I have absolutely nothing against religion or Buddha, and I don’t believe that religion is the cause of kids’ wildness. But, certainly religion is no safeguard against juvenile delinquency either.

    Parents are human. They make mistakes. They fail. They were young once. No matter how many times they have read the Bible, Koran, Gita, etc. since then, they can’t change the reality of what it means to be human – either for themselves or for their kids. People who think religion somehow gives them a free pass in any way are in for a few unpleasant surprises. Humility is key to any true religion.

    My parents were religious and my dad was deeply spiritual. However, he never pretended that he was not human nor expected that of us. He was an alcoholic and he told us so. He rarely drank during my formative years, but yet we ALL had wine with special dinners. How do you seriously blame an inanimate object (fermented grape or whatever) for a bad choice? My dad is well-versed in the Bible, yet he never tried to wield or hide behind Bible verses when it came time to Parent. And although none of us is perfect, I’d say he was a very successful parent and very loved too. Hopefully I’ve learned something from him, even though my religious beliefs don’t mirror his.

  19. Tessa says:

    I totally agree SaintyFound and SKL. Buddhism is one religion, the only one I know of, that drinking is looked down on because the religion is based on awareness… I was friends with a girl as a 21 year old who was buddhist and actually did not drink and never had. There are teens that a bid to what they believe in, but I am aware that not all teens follow their religion! I was part of the Catholic church as a teen, but didn’t want to follow most of their ways! I just meant, there are teens that do really believe and follow.

    Sorry for all the contradictions and confusion guys! Sometimes I speak my mind too much! I switch my mind a lot and am 25 years old, so I am constantly changing how I do things. I only have a 3 month old and we’ll see what it’s like later on!

    Wow, Joan, good for you. You sound like my mom. She told us the same thing about drinking, and I felt comfortable to call her if I ever really needed.

    Sainty and Jane, sorry, I was just not clear about what I meant. I am aware that the child/teen might do it anyways-I’ve been there- I guess it just depends how much the teen respects the beliefs and holds the beliefs to their heart or not and most teens want to experiment of coarse. All parents can do is show the way and hope for the best!

  20. mssc54 says:

    Now this is just my (correct) opinion…

    One of the biggest problems with parenting and religion alike is that God gets credit and blame when in fact it is we humans who screw things up.

    Credit example: The cashier gives you change for a twenty when you gave her a ten. No God did not bless you, you stole. The waitress forgot to put your desert on your bill. No God did not bless you, you stole. You find money on the groung outside the door of a store. No God did not bless you, you stole.

    Blame example: A child is killed by a drunk driver. No God did not kill that child. He gave us all the ability to think and make good or bad decisions.

    An army combat medic gets killed by a Taliban sniper. No God did not kill him. The Taliban sniper who believes in a different god killed him.

  21. Tessa says:

    Really good point, mssc. Well said.

  22. SanityFound says:

    Tessa, no need to say sorry but from reading all of the comments here and your mention of your young child – forgive me if I am wrong but it sounds like you are scared of screwing up, not being the perfect parent or doing good by your child.

    From what I know of you here on this blog, I don’t proclaim to know who you are or what you stand for, but one thing I have picked up is that you are an amazing person. Like alot of the comments above have said, it all comes down to us being human. You can only do right by your child if you be the best person you can be and show them constantly.

    I am not a parent and I take my hat off to those who have children. Not all parents care about such things as you or the others above do, some don’t care, plain and simple… they live their lives by contradictions and their kids have no guidelines and suffer because of it.

    To answer your question properly Joy, we are all human and if one day I have a child I would first explain the consequences as I mentioned above and if they were to prove themselves untrustworthy then I would tell them that I will use a breathalyzer and why. You can lie to me once about something but the consequences of lying again will be made known.

    Tessa, I think you’re going to be a great mom and your child is lucky to have such a caring one.

    Sometimes religion has nothing to do with the matter at hand, sometimes it just clouds issues and takes the focus away from topics that need to be discussed like this one.

    Congrats on the 60k Joy, I love your family blog, it’s always so warm and interesting like coming home out of the cold for a nice hot cup of cocoa and a cookie (when California doesn’t steal them first!). I am truly blessed to have met you last year (whoohoo its 2009 here already yipeeee!!!), thank you for being you, you are one incredible human! Perhaps this year we shall meet 🙂

    Happy 2009, may it be an awesome one!

  23. Joy says:

    Thanks Auds. I will have warm cookies waiting for you next visit. Unless of course *California* or *Maddie* get them first. Notice she’s on all the blogs now??? Watching out for my cookies!!!!

  24. SanityFound says:

    Dang gf those cookies were to die for, am so relieved that I got them before California phew!!!

    Yers now this Maddie, we need to talk because I think she needs a cookie breathalizer… oh dear I think we have a new invention, quick quick we got to patent!

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