My ex allowed my underage son to drink

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Dear Marcie

My son has just turned 15 and he has returned from a weekend with his mum to tell me that she allowed him and his friends to drink alcohol that she had provided at a party she threw for his birthday.  I feel really upset and annoyed that she did not speak to me about this and especially as we have all had a letter from the school telling us of the dangers of our children drinking when they are too young.  I also had a parent of one of the other boys complain to me that he was unaware there would be alcohol at the party and he was not happy that his son had also been drinking.  How can I talk to my ex about this – I know she will just laugh at me and tell me that we used to drink before we were 18 but I feel that the science has changed on alcohol and I want her to be a parent to our son rather than trying to be his friend.

Ben, Walton-on-Thames

Dear Ben

This is a hard one isn't it. Whichever side of this discussion you sit on, you still need to be able to have the discussion in a way that you both feel heard.

Having ground rules about life milestones in advance can be useful. If there are other readers out there who have younger children, then have these discussions before they are needed. That way you both know where you stand and what the boundaries are.

Ask your ex for a conversation and try to meet her where she is. So, if she's finds it amusing that you both used to drink and you want to do something different for your child, then start in that place. Forge a connection about how in the 90s we all used to drink and notice together that times have changed. Do that before introducing the fact that the science has changed and ask her the question about how she thinks you should deal with that as parents? By collaborating and then introducing new information before asking them to think about the problem, you are much more likely to get a considered response as opposed to being laughed at.

And if she still doesn't agree, talk with your son. He's 15 and very able to have a conversation about the responsibility and effects of drinking. Empower him to make his own choices and to have the self-assurance to say no if he needs to.



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