The modern culture is very much focused on alcohol.
'Going out' automatically means having a drink. An alcoholic one at that. And I, as mother and wife, doth indeed enjoy my glass of vino and indeed my pint of Guinness. The odd cocktail does make an appearance now and again too. So I'm not ignorant of the presence of alcohol in our lives.
But as we watch social media it is with utter disgust at how our young people are behaving on the streets - drunken and disorderly as each weekend goes by. And rest assured that drunken nights are a regular feature here in my hometown too. No one escapes this trend among our young folk. It's not something that we, as mothers, like to speak out about. We all know about 'yer man next door' or 'yer wan down the road' who has over-indulged once again.
We don't hesitate to condemn the neighbour or the friends. But we're not so forthcoming when it happens under our own roof. But it does happen, and it's a worrying experience. It's something we should not be afraid to admit to. We all experience it. No one escapes this drinking culture. We have NO right to judge another.
I've sat up to make sure my older boy got to bed alright. I've brought the pint of water into the bedroom to ensure he hydrates himself on awakening. I've even gone to the shop and bought the bottle of lucozade, the bottle of coke. All to make sure he comes around ok the morning after the night before. Mind you I've NEVER cleaned up the sick - and yes, it's been there on occasion. My motto has always been, 'you make the mess, you clean it up'.
So when the youngest son made the decision to refrain from alcohol a number of years ago, I waited, and waited, for it to break. It never wavered. He went out....he stayed out late....he came home....again and again, SOBER. Could this really be possible? It is. Approaching 20 years of age soon, the boy is still teetotal. This is purely a choice he has made. And a choice he has rigidly stuck to.
And through this choice my boy has made, I've discovered that more and more of our young people are indeed making the choice to go 'alcohol-free' on their nights out. I've spoken to a number of teenagers over the past year who say it's a choice they've decided to make and they are proud to stand by it. They go out with their college friends and they drink soft drinks, alcohol-free lager and even non-alcohol cocktails.
For a long time, I worried that my son was 'missing out'. I worried that society would shun him because he didn't drink alcohol. But as time went on, I realised that society does, in fact, respect him. There has been pressure on him on occasion, but the people who mean something to him are those who respect his choice, and there are those who also made that same choice as he.
We don't hear about the young folk who abstain.
We only hear about those who are falling on our streets in the early hours. Those who are repeatedly drunken disorderly. And I am a mother of each category. I'm a mother who has seen every side of alcohol induced teenagers and young folk. As a mother I'm very aware of our 'drink' culture. And I'm a mother who is not afraid to admit to the reality of raising and witnessing my children drunk.
But what I'm also a mother of is the modern world. The world that tells our young folk it's ok to drink. It's cool to be drunk. But the sad fact is that it's so 'not cool' to be drunk. It's not cool when you see your son or daughter not know where they were last night. It's not cool when your son or daughter doesn't know how they got home last night. And it's certainly not cool when you sit at home yet again knowing your son or daughter is doing it all over again.
So it really is a blessing to know that some of our young folk are indeed abstaining from the 'social norm'. There is a number of our young folk who are standing out from the crowd by remaining teetotal. They really are the cool kids in town. Here's to a new generation of young folk who really are making that choice for themselves. The choice to go 'alcohol free'. Huge respect to each and every one of them. Maybe one day my baby will take a drink. And that's ok too. But to come through those teenage years in the contemporary world teetotal, is something I think deserves praise. And I for one, am a very proud mother of this boy. I'm equally proud of the other two boys, but this is a huge feat in the modern world.
I'm not perfect. My boy isn't perfect. But going teetotal is a modern trend. Here's to each and every teen who makes that very wise choice.