Yesterday, I spent some time getting deep into the problem of underage drinking, understanding from what I saw on the surface. Today, I’d like to take an innovative approach to solving the problem through treating the instigators with compassion, in the hopes of empowering those affected by the problem.
When a parent allows a child to drink alcohol within the privacy of their own home, but with the stipulation the child is not to drink alcohol outside of the home often sends mixed messages to the child. In many cases, children who abuse alcohol have at least one parent who abuses alcohol.
In my father’s situation, he always believed a real man is a man who drank. According to him, “A man who doesn’t drink isn’t a man.” I believe somewhere in his childhood, or teenage years, some adult male told him the same thing. I don’t believe it was his mother or father, because my paternal grandparents were religious and God loving people. They believed in loving the Lord, following his good examples. Education was also important to them.
My father left home at fifteen years old in spite of my grandparents wanting him to finish school hoping for him to have a bright future with a good education. His problem was he wanted to be his own boss, always thinking he knew more than his teachers or his parents did.
He needed handwritten permission from my grandfather allowing him to travel to Canada to do migratory work. My grandfather refused to sign the papers for several reasons. Firstly, he felt my father was too young to be on his own going to another country to work. Secondly, he preferred my father to stay in school, graduating high school, going on to college, and graduating with a degree.
My father convinced an uncle to sign the papers for him, giving him permission to travel to Canada with the intentions to do migratory work.
I speculate my father was heavily influenced by the men he worked with. Perhaps they were the ones who told him, “A real man is a man who drinks.”
My father went to nightclubs throughout Canada on the weekends with his friends where they enjoyed drinking and music. I believe this was the start of him becoming an alcoholic.
He lived and worked in various parts of Canada until he was 27 years old, when he was sponsored by an uncle on his mother’s side of the family to come to the United States. This uncle introduced him to my mother, of whom he married. My parents got married in June 1966.
I believe his reasoning for telling my brothers, “A real man is a man who drinks,” often telling them from the time they were little tykes they weren’t men if they didn’t drink, is because he was mislead at a young age about what it really means to be a man. Therefore, my brothers were mislead, getting involved with people who were no good for them. If it weren’t for my brother John to be influenced by my father, he never would have touched a drop of alcohol. He’d still be alive today.
I believe an innovative solution would be to get inside the head of the person who is an alcoholic, to learn why they view the world the way they do. Educate them, informing them whoever told them it’s okay to drink, not only mislead them, but took advantage of their not knowing any better. Tell those influenced by others to drink, “You are smarter than this. Being smart and using one’s intelligence for the greater good, is what makes a man, not alcohol.”
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015