We as parents say we’d easily lay down our lives for our kids; we should be willing to lay down our rights and desires, as well (John 15:13). While many Christians and theologians still think the issue of a Christian’s use of alcohol in general is up for debate, even if we do legitimately have “liberty” in Christ to drink socially, it’s probably not the most loving choice to make toward our teens — and one thing is for sure: Love should shape how we exercise our Christian liberty (Galatians 5:13).
Showing Love by Limiting Access
As we discussed in Part 1, there are a few arguments that seem to legitimize moderate alcohol consumption; however, there are many more potential negative effects of under-age alcohol consumption.
You might argue, though, that your moderate alcohol consumption as a responsible adult has little, if anything, to do with your teen’s propensity for alcohol-related problems. In fact, it is related: As a parent, you have the power to influence the three main factors that affect your teen’s choice: environment, family, and peers.
As a parent, both your attitude about alcohol as well as its availability in your home are huge in helping prevent your teen from participating in under-age drinking, falling prey to alcohol addiction, and suffering its debilitating effects.
Showing Love by Modeling Healthy Coping Skills
Maybe your argument against carefully removing the temptation from your teen is that he or she needs to learn to make wise choices, even in the midst of temptations. While there is truth to that idea, God gives us a responsibility to help encourage those who are weaker than we are to make wise choices. If anyone is a “weaker brother” worthy of protection, it’s the teen that God has placed in our care (Romans 14:21, 1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Often, the teens who turn to alcohol are ones with conduct disorders such as aggressive or hyperactive behaviors or emotional or social problems such as being depressed, anxious, or withdrawn. Many turn to drugs and alcohol in order to self-medicate to find relief from their frustrations.
When adults even hint at the idea of alcohol’s promise of relief by saying something like, “I need a drink,” they’re not modeling the kind of Godward, healthy coping skills their teens need to see. While many find temporary comfort or even feelings of ecstasy or joy in alcohol as well as when taking drugs or experiencing moments of earthly success, God invites us to experience the kind of true joy found only in relationship with Him (Psalm 4:7).
Instead of letting alcohol control our behavior, God our Creator offers His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20) that can produce positive fruit and behaviors in our lives, ones in direct contrast to those promoted by alcohol (Galatians 5:19-25). Instead of self-medicating feelings of anxiety that stem from circumstances beyond our control, we can learn to focus and discipline our minds and pray and give thanks to the God who controls all things (Philippians 4:6-8).
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