The Roundup -

Change Your Impact

Series, Part 2: Adulthood is a Misnomer


October 18, 2017 | View PDF

I have teenagers at home. Three girls to be exact. I know that there are many people out there who can relate to the crazy that is my house right now. Sometimes however, when I need to remember why I love them, I reminisce about when they were young, really young, like just walking. (They were easier to control then.) They were so cute and happy waddling around; but they still needed me for almost everything. Every step they would take, I would always have the awareness to know when they were about to fall or head toward something dangerous. As a parent, my role then was to pick them up, turn them away from that danger and put them back on the right and safe path.

As our kids get older we should slowly recede from sheltering them so much. Let them make decisions and learn the consequences, negative or positive. This is a natural order of growth of a person. No matter how much your heart breaks, you must let them move forward to become an adult. According to, age of majority is “the age at which full civil rights are accorded; age of majority in the U.S. is 18.” I understand that the legal age of majority being 18 and the legal license for consuming alcohol being 21 is a very heated topic. That debate is not being discussed in this article.

What I am getting at though, is this bit of reality that gets overlooked: The age of majority does not necessarily correspond to the mental or physical maturity of an individual. In other words, just because you are 18 doesn’t mean you are capable of making adult decisions like drinking.


A young person’s body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adult’s can.

Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills (ability to move) and coordination.

According to research, young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. (

In Richland County, during the 2016 Montana Prevention Needs assessment, 8th graders who were surveyed say they started drinking regularly at age 13. The average age that 8th, 10th, and 12th graders surveyed started drinking regularly was age 15 (

So, your role as a parent is to guide your child into and through their teen years and when necessary, divert and put them back on the right path. Teens are a lot of work, trust me I know! You can’t just follow them around to every event or every Friday fun night at a friend’s house to keep them safe. I might have tried a few times. For teens, it is much simpler and takes very little time especially if you started talking to them about alcohol when they were younger. You can still significantly change your impact on their decisions about alcohol use by talking to them.

Challenge yourself to TALK to your children about what adult decisions they are really capable of making, especially the use of alcohol. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Send your comments to the Editor.

Next Time: Change Your Impact Series, Part 3, Alcohol Facts for Richland County Youth


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