The lazy days of summer are here. Unfortunately, this is also a dangerous time for our youth.
Other than the few hotspots during the school year, such as Halloween, Homecoming, New Year’s Eve, Prom, and Graduation, summer sees more initiation of substance use than any time of the year. One of the top reasons youth cite for experimenting with alcohol and other drugs is, “There’s nothing else to do.”
Why do youth turn to alcohol and other drugs when they are bored?
Probably because that is what we have taught them to do when they want to have fun. I’m not saying we tell kids to drink; I mean we show them. What’s the opposite of sitting home bored? How about having a party? And what’s at the top of the shopping list for a party? Why, alcohol, of course.
I was reminded of this recently when I bought a bottle of wine to bring to a friend’s party. As I was checking out, the cashier asked if I was going to bring the wine to a party that weekend (I guess she was just making small talk). However, the message the kids behind me with their mom heard was loud and clear that a good party means and requires alcohol.
So here are some random thoughts: In addition to scheduling a trip to the library to pick up the remaining books for summer reading, why not engage your kids in planning an end of summer BBQ? Have them concentrate on creating activities for their friends or cousins, and make sure they come up with some cool things for the adults, too. There are plenty of party games that would fit the bill for both. The last time we had an adult and child game of Pictionary was a highlight my family won’t forget – NO ONE was bored! Help your children plan the food. Maybe the rule could be that every item on the menu must be something new (do you really need another Jell-O mold)?
For the beverages, bring back one of those frozen sherbet and ginger ale punches we used to have, or brew some iced tea and throw in some fruit. If there will be soda, pick up the loose generic cans and mix up as many flavors as you can, and make sure they fill the large cooler. If there will be alcoholic beverages, use the small cooler or keep them in the refrigerator. If your guests see that there are only a few or if they have to go into the house to get it, they may be more likely to grab a cherry-lime soda or some of the punch. When they do, they may flash back in time and smile.
With school seeming both too far away and right around the corner, we could all use a reminder of how much fun it is to be a kid at the beginning of summer.