Are the Kids Alright?

While the rest of the world is falling apart, the kids — at least here in this suburb — seem to be struggling, too.

We got a five page e-mail from our superintendent yesterday about drug use in our town. They did two major Xanax busts in the school last week. One girl, an honor student, OD-ed after taking ten Xanax this month. We’re going to have a major, emergency meeting at the school next week to talk about the abuse of drugs in town. I’m hearing rumors about good kids from good families getting into major trouble.

I’m supremely grateful that my kid is kept super busy at track practice. There’s little way, despite a high level whining, that we’ll let him drop out of track. We want him busy as he enters into his second semester of his senior  year. I’m looking into sending him away for the summer on an Outward Bound adventure just to keep him away from certain friends.

When we came back from out ski trip last weekend, we found a broken window above my desk. There was a large footprint on the desk. Someone had been in our house.

We called the cops and then a security company. The cops said it had all the earmarks of a teenager. Nothing was taken. The house wasn’t trashed. The cops said that teenagers, who knew we were away, probably used our house for a party. Since the house wasn’t trashed, it was probably somebody that knew our kid. Apparently, this happens a lot. It won’t happen again, because our house will be Fort Knox after the security company finishes flipping a switch next week.

The school district stopped hiring substitute teachers to save money. So, when the teachers are absent, the kids can come and go from the school whenever they like. One parent told me that her son had four free periods last month and used that time to get into a lot of trouble. She said that she can’t manage her kid, if she assumes that he’s in school, but he’s actually roaming free.

Teenagers get into trouble. I did. But I’m hearing about them doing things — break-ins, vaping in the bathroom, smoking weed in the middle of the day — that makes my past stupidity laughable.

To keep my kid safe, I’ve got him on a very short leash. Which makes him pissed off at me. Parenting is tough.

Advertisements

47 thoughts on “Are the Kids Alright?

  1. I don’t approve of having an open campus at high schools. In my opinion, the high school does have a responsibility in my eyes to supervise the students under their authority during the school day. Yes, some students will choose to go to the town library to find books for a research project, or choose to go to McDonald’s for lunch. Others will use the freedom to buy drugs or break into homes. (And few adults are home during the day.)

    Perhaps the police can make the argument to the school administration that allowing students to leave campus creates more work for the police, and threatens to ruin the futures of the students caught misbehaving off campus? Or a letter to the local paper?

    If the school can’t hire substitutes for every class, perhaps they could institute an in-school study hall. If you’re not in class, you have to be in the study hall. A large group of students can be supervised by a teacher or even an aide. In the old days, private schools had rooms like this: http://www.saintmeinrad.edu/about-us/history/.

    Sadly, what you’re describing sounds to me like it’s relatively mild. I’ve been hearing through the grapevine of students committing suicide in surrounding towns, private schools, and colleges. Some of the college suicides are committed at college by recent graduates of nearby towns.

    http://www.hercampus.com/school/u-mass-amherst/addressing-mental-illness-response-recent-suicides-college
    https://ericataylorr13.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/the-illusion-of-community/

    I have a theory, that some communities are so full of high-performing families, the bar is set too high to get into honors courses.
    That ratchets up the pressure. An older friend, who lives in another high-performing district, has told me that very middle of the pack kids go off to college and end up on Dean’s Lists, which fits with what I observe here. Is it that college standards have fallen, or is it that some school districts inappropriately restrict access to more challenging courses?

    The “frog pond effect”:
    http://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/images/members/docs/pdf/featured/attewell.pdf
    https://sites.temple.edu/klugman/files/2012/11/Klugman-forthcoming-RHE-How-Resource-Inequalities-Among-High-Schools-Reproduce-Class-Advantages-in-College-Destinations.pdf
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3086272/

    The danger of the short leash, though, is that students are off the leash in college, often for the first time in their lives.

      1. That sounds quaint. Some 8 years ago, a friend was describing the local spot, where high school students (from the local “open” campus) used to deal drugs.

        It’s a very high income area. There have been heroin overdoses.

      2. Heroin use was only a reason for arresting the user here until about five years ago when kids started dying of heroin overdoses in the white suburbs. Now it’s all about training the police to treat an overdose and amnesty for bringing your OD’ing friend to the ER.

  2. I still want everyone to spill on the “trouble” they got into in high school, so that I can no what it looks like for people who are normal functioning adults. I myself did not get into any trouble at all in high school. My fails involved things like not filling out all my essays in college applications (which mind you, I would probably consider a serious fail if my kiddo did it — back then, I got second chances on things like that).

    I do wonder how much of our worries are compounded by our much greater knowledge. From L’s occasional hints about high school life, I don’t see that J is getting into more trouble? Are his friends getting into more trouble?

    In our personal world, there is more stress than I remember, but, I am probably misremembering the stress. I did, after all, run out of class and cry big sopping tears for the C+ I got on an English essay when I was in HS. That’s probably not worse than the midnight meltdown our a physics project.

    1. I didn’t know the SAT IIs were a thing until October of my senior year. I took them at the very last possible date to count, and the school I went to still didn’t get them on time.

      I took public transit to an open campus HS and had a single mom who was working/busy about 80+ hours a week, including frequent travel. My junior and senior year, I had days where I had no human interactions outside school (I had a little sister, but there were weeks where she wouldn’t speak to me, so that didn’t help). I think all the free time and lack of adult supervision or care made me get into less trouble. Why fuck up my own life if no one but myself seemed to care?*

      I think that the particulars might involve a combination of extreme coddling with extreme expectations, related to a neurotic fear of failure on the parents’ part that gets communicated to children. Letting kids know they’re responsible for their own lives and also that there’s a degree of failure that’s normal and fine I think leads to better outcomes. This parenting dynamic is ratcheted up to 11 in middle class families in China, and you get similar sorts of dysfunction.

      *Obviously not entirely true, but teens aren’t known for being totally rational in that regard. In fairness though, my mother didn’t notice if or when I went to school, if I was sick, or the week I tried to have an eating disorder for attention.

      1. I also grew up around hippies and artists, so there wasn’t much I wanted to rebel against. I started drinking at home with my mom at 16, first just red wine, then later beer. No media was off limits, and I didn’t have a curfew. My mother told me I could call her at any time from anywhere and she’d pick me up, no questions asked. I used this to get a ride home from the suburbs at 3 am on a weekend after a marathon meeting with my constitutional law team. The bus line near our house also ran 24-7, so I remember nights waiting at 1 am to get the bus home after going to a film.

    2. I was incredibly dull. I never smoked cigarettes or pot nor did I drink. I was a little younger than everyone because I’d skipped a grade, but I had been on the older side in my “original” class, so the difference wasn’t that huge. What was weird is that my best friend was old for our class because she was held back in elementary school because she moved from a bad situation in the city to a Long Island suburb. So my friend turned 18 in August 1982, right before our senior year of HS, and I didn’t turn 18 until more than halfway through my first year of college.

      My friends (3 male, 2 female) and I used to go to a stretch of grass near our houses (right here: http://imgur.com/sf87nsM) and we played 3-on-3 football. We’d drive around Massapequa and Lloyd Harbor looking for LI based rock stars (Stray Cats and Billy Joel, fyi). My big “crime” in HS is one that I never quite forgave my father for. The night of Senior Dinner I had a 1 am curfew. We pulled up to my house to drop me off and they were talking about going to HoJos, and I said, Screw it, I’ll go too. When I got home an hour or so later, I was seriously grounded for a week.

      In college I started drinking a little, but it wasn’t an every weekend kind of thing. I only started drinking more often as a social thing (going out for beers in grad school) and, LOL, after I had kids.

      I never have any regrets about my HS choices. I talk about it a lot with students, too, because I think they need to know 1. that drinking/smoking was common in the 80s and 2. that some people (like me) chose not to do it and we turned out ok.

      Unclear what my daughter is doing. I’ve never had to ground her for being late. I usually know where she is via Find My Friends*, and she’s usually at one of her friends’ houses. If she’s not home by 11:30, I start sending texts telling Cinderella that she really needs to be home by 12. She doesn’t appear to be under the influence of anything when she comes home and I’ve never smelled pot or any particular attempt to hide it.

      The 14 year old is not yet that social. He actually went to his first party the same day S and I were at the Women’s March in NYC. Those kids seem relatively chill. I know their parents (usually moms) because they’re all band kids. and I was president of Band Parents. I thus also have all their parents’ phone numbers and email addresses. 🙂 They also have older siblings who are S’s age, so I know what those kids are usually doing.

      *I told her that when she turns 18, I will delete her from my FMF if she likes. I asked her to stay connected to her brother’s account as a “just in case” thing, but she doesn’t seem to like that idea.

    3. bj said:

      “I still want everyone to spill on the “trouble” they got into in high school, so that I can no what it looks like for people who are normal functioning adults.”

      I was a very good kid with a George Washington level inability to tell a lie. There was one episode of an unsafe drive with a neighbor girl (it was a road in poor repair near a river) and one time my sister and I went for a drive on a country road when our parents were away for the weekend with neither of us having a license. So, pretty much 100% car stuff when I was in high school. There was also a lot of covert viewing of MTV and CBC’s Good Rocking Tonite. (You know it’s good when the naughty involves Canadian Broadcasting!) I also read some naughty books. Oh, and I once distributed student surveys evaluating my biology teacher who was not actually teaching biology (80% of the time, he was just shooting the breeze with his basketball players).

      Yes, I was a goody goody.

      My sis had a tendency to turn her trip money into cookies, rather than actual lunch. She was also once left home alone for a weekend (DO NOT DO THIS WITH YOUR HIGHSCHOOLER!) and kids from school just materialized at our house without her inviting them. She wound up having to clean human feces off the yard. EWWWW.

      Baby Brother had a trashy stalker girlfriend that would call and call and call and call and show up randomly at our house (a 20 minute drive out of her way). Our parents had given him a car, which is (for some reason) not something that sis and I got. His college girlfriend (later SIL) eventually ran her off. Hallelujah!

      We all turned out OK.

  3. BTW, we find that the Nest camera system is a useful monitor for the house. It’s seriously creepy if you think about it too much: with the recording service, it records video clips every time there is movement, so when I first upgraded the software for the camera I realized that it had recorded every conversation we had in our living room. I kind of liked it, ’cause it meant that I could review video records when the kids said “but you didn’t tell me to empty the dishwasher.” But, they convinced me that it was creepy enough to be recording their every words that I disabled the recording while we were in the house.

  4. What did I do in high school? Tried pot, while on a girl scout camping trip. Drank with the track team. (The coach provided us with the beer). Went to dance clubs in NYC when I was underage. I didn’t even need a fake ID for that. And I must have looked like I was 13, but the bouncers didn’t care.

  5. Lots of underage drinking and a little pot for me too. Shoplifting was really big in my high school for whatever reason. No one needed the things we were stealing as everyone could afford to buy them (family incomes ranged from middle class to VERY upper class at my high school) – I guess it was a thrill thing. I never got busted for it (yes – I am ashamed to admit I participated), but one of my friends did – her parents bought her out of an arrest record. I am a professor now, so I guess I turned out okay?

    I am sure for our parents, the sense of danger for kids seemed scaled up from when they were kids, just as it does for us. And I think we’re all probably right about that – for instance, the rates of opioid abuse and suicide have increased in recent years. I am beyond freaked out by the opioid crisis around here – so much so that when my 14 year old son broke his wrist a few weeks ago, I refused to give him the opioids the doctor prescribed. I am not an entirely horrible parent as I did fill the prescription, but it turns out that he tolerated the pain fine using plain old ibuprofen. It’s really hard to find a balance – on the one hand, I know that children need the freedom to fail, but when the stakes are so high, it’s hard to let that leash out.

    1. I’m not really sure the stakes are higher. They might be higher than for the baby boomers, who could faff about into great jobs, but my grandparents came of age during the Great Depression, when job prospects were even bleaker than they were today. I think that stakes also vary really widely by community. I grew up being taught the stakes were really low, because life is a journey and people can take all sorts of path to success and there are all different ways of being successful blah blah. My East Coast peers were raised to view the world similarly to today’s kids (I graduated from college 11 years ago).

      I wrote a mini project on the anxieties of helicopter parenting, and I think one thing that is possible is that downward income mobility is highly likely for lots of parents, even if it’s not downward class mobility. Children of corporate lawyers becoming college professors, and the like. In this case, the question is, is the anxiety really that the child will objectively “fail,” or is it that they’ll live a middle class lifestyle instead of upper middle, or upper middle instead of upper?

      In some ways, things like violent crime and stranger kidnapping are down from the 70s, when kids used to be less supervised.

    1. It seems to be a bit of a chicken/egg problem. E.g. because the stakes are higher, we invest more into children, therefore making them more expensive and raising the stakes?

      I dunno, I grew up with enough working class family and friends to see lots of really happy people enjoying life and lots of forms of success that don’t meet UMC expectations and would probably be considered “failing” in elite parts of the US. I also know people who made it materially who were constantly bitter and filled with resentment that was quite irrational.

      1. I was thinking here about the worst possible outcome – my kid dying. If my kids want to grow up and be ski instructors, professional lifeguards or what have you, I have no problem with that. If they’re happy, fine with me. I just don’t want them to die. And to Cranberry’s point about family size, when you have 10 kids, it’s sad when one dies, but there are a lot more left over. Now, if one of two dies, that’s a huge blow.

        Of course, I know it’s not likely that my kids will die, but I see data that the suicide rate is increasing (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/04/22/474888854/suicide-rates-climb-in-u-s-especially-among-adolescent-girls) and opioid deaths are on the rise (indeed, at my institution, two of my faculty colleagues have lost children to addiction and overdoses), I can’t help but freak out. And I think in some ways, that’s what Laura is getting at here. I don’t want to speak for her, but I don’t think she’s keeping Jonah in cross country because she wants him to go to Harvard. I think she’s keeping him in cross country because she doesn’t want him to get into the drug crowd. I could be wrong about that, but I completely understand where she’s coming from.

      2. I knew lots of families with kids in the double digits. I’m pretty sure none of them thought “Eh, I’ve got another.”

  6. My mother would say the worst thing I did was run away from home for a night senior year. It was Thanksgiving, which was the anniversary of my father’s death and not a very festive holiday in our house. My mother had planned a girls’ road trip to Victoria BC with my sister and I, which I’d been really looking forward to. The night before she canceled it because she decided she was too depressed and didn’t want to go somewhere even darker. Instead we stayed home and ate rice and beans, which were burnt. I got in a huge fight with my mother (I was also depressed and angry and being difficult), and it culminated with me storming out of the house around 8 pm. I did research in a neuroscience lab attached to the university hospital and had a key for after hours access, so I took the bus there and spent the night. It was kind of cold and I was really hungry, but I spent the night writing an essay for a class.* I came back the next morning to a frantic mother, and never told her where I went, not even to this day.

    *I basically used school work as an escape from my depression and shitty home life.

  7. I was a prickly and angry teenager who fought constantly with my mother, but I was also a straight A+ student who did 400 million extra curricular activities and won tons of awards, so I’m not sure how it balances out.* My mother thinks I’m her “easy” child, and my sister thinks I’m the “difficult” one. They’re both right in different ways.

    *My sister was also prickly and angry and even more high-achieving than me, except she directed her anger mostly at me and our dead father and to a lesser extent our brother, instead of at my mother. I focused my anger mostly at my mother, but also on my sister and not at all on my brother or father.

    1. My mom and I were at war from when I was 11ish until I was 15 and she had cancer and I didn’t see a lot of her. Then I left home at 16 for college out of state.

      We argued a lot over chores (I HATED HATED HATED dishes). My mom broke quite a number of kitchen implements on my sister and me during those years.

      I now have a family with very similar age distribution to what my mom had and I have a little more sympathy for her feelings at the time–but she had no strategy at all. I have a teenage daughter now (which can be quite the trip), but (*fingers crossed*) I’m much more strategic than my mom was.

      I was a daddy’s girl and a good student.

      1. My mother and I fought a lot about dishes too. I HATE doing the dishes and am also bad at it.* Give me vacuuming and laundry over dishes any day. One low point in our relationship was probably when my mother threw a glass at my head and I ducked so it hit the wall and broke. In retrospect I have compassion for both of us, we were people coping the best we could with a hard situation, which ultimately wasn’t that great. Knowing my mom much better now as an adult, I can see how the situation was totally overwhelming for her, and she ended up making a series of bad decisions (inc. a brief marriage shortly after my father died) that had pretty big emotional repercussions for us.

        *Obviously I really miss my fiance for lots of reasons, but one thing I’m sad about is that dishes was his chore, and now that he’s away I have to do them all.

      2. B.I.,

        What an interesting coincidence–my husband washes the dishes, too!

        I only have to wash them once in a blue moon. (We have started getting the kids unloading them.)

  8. Apologies for not having read the thread, but I have a data point.

    One of my relatives has a highschooler in a very nice suburban district. Kid has gotten death threats from a couple of classmates and their house vandalized and they think it’s those classmates (one of the kids said in class, we know where you live). At least one of the two kids is not from a well-off family, though.

    My relative is in the raising hell process right now.

  9. I was like Wendy – on the “dull” side in high school. In band and first chair clarinet. Honour roll. Won the Social Studies & French prizes. Loved Monty Python. One of the only girls in physics class. Had my crew of fellow geeky music pals to hang out with. Listened to cast recordings of musicals and read the New Yorker.

    My older sister was the opposite and I was too scared to go down that route.

    1. My parents were distracted by my sister’s out of control behavior (she ran away when she was 15 and I was 9). As a result, I pretty much raised myself from then onwards.

  10. I was pretty good in high school aside from the consistent (twice a week) drinking and, at that point, still very rare tobacco use. I don’t think my dad ever really cared about the drinking as long as I was getting all A’s and was always able to come into the house and have a brief conversation with him before I went to bed. There’s no way he didn’t know I was drunk and I think he just didn’t tell mom.

    Of course, we never broke into anybody’s house to drink. We just drove around.

  11. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who wasn’t wild as a teen (though I think MH’s definition of drinking twice a week being “pretty good” is funny and that driving around while drinking? is a bit scary).

    1. I wasn’t even joking. Teachers generally wanted me in their class. Other kids used to reassure their parents about going out by saying I was going to too. The drinking age was 18 only a few years before I got to high school and there was still plenty of debate as to whether raising it was a good idea. (Or course, we were 16 when we started.) No parents I knew ever bought beer or hosted a party, but none of them (except for my mom) had the slightest doubt we were drinking. The faster crowd, that I wouldn’t have been hanging around with because I wasn’t wanted there, was drunker and making whole bunches of babies that would either lead to ill-considered marriages or fodder for the adoption agencies of Omaha.

      Of course drunk driving scares me now. At the time, it really didn’t worry too many people unless the driver was horribly drunk. Part of the reason I stayed out of the suburbs is because I remember all the trouble with cars and alcohol and I have realized that staying in a city is an excellent way to avoid the combination.

    2. Actually, my next door neighbor had a keg when his daughter graduated high school (same class as me). We sat in their garage playing cards and got their dog drunk (apparently really much too drunk based on later reports).

  12. I had a similarly nerdy group of friends. We spent Friday night at the bookstore because it was open until 11, and hung out at coffee shops or went to the dollar movie theater. We listened to Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel,, Tom Lehrer, Woody Guthrie, and Manu Chao. I spent most of my free time reading philosophy, history, and sociology from my parents’ old college book collection. I also hung out after school at the library reading about paleoanthropology and dead languages.

    My friends’ parents were all former hippies and pretty baffled at how square we were. They were like, “don’t you want to smoke pot and sneak drinks and have sex and listen to music we hate?” and we were like, “nah.” My grandmother sat me down at 18 and gave me the “it’s ok to be gay” talk because she was baffled that I didn’t have a boyfriend.*

    *Being my grandmother, it went more like, “you’re not so ugly that no man could find you attractive, so I have to let you know that it is acceptable for you to be a lesbian.”

  13. My secret belief is if you want uptight conventionally successful kids, you have to be the opposite. My parents had friends were were Moonies and lived on a commune in Southern Oregon, and they had a son named Moonbeam Rainbow or something like that. When he grew up, he changed his name to Chris and became a banker.

    1. Ugh, you are so right. I am generally anti-authoritarian and I don’t really do traditions or rituals. And my genetic mutant daughter, whom I know is mine only because I pushed her out of my body PLUS she looks exactly like her father and grandmother, is a tradition/ritual lover who thinks my husband and me should have been stricter parents. We actually have fights* where I have to explain that she is not her brother’s mother, I am, and I will parent him as I see fit.
      *By fights I mean I raise the volume on my voice from about 3 to 4. Then she tells me I have anger management issues. LOL. I’ll miss the brat when she goes off to college.

      1. Oh gosh.

        Both big kids have parenting pointers for me with regard to the preschooler. They think she gets away with too much.

        The volume thing is also familiar. C now has (and this actually is a good thing, as it reflects social sensitivity) a lot of awareness of tone, and she is able to detect homeopathic concentrations of irritation in my voice.

        Teenagers, bless their hearts, are very aware of other people’s shortcomings–but not so much of their own.

      2. My best friend’s parents are “Jew-bus”* who are allergic to organized religion and serve ham on Hanukkah. As a preteen my friend insisted she have a bat mitzvah, go to Hebrew school, and her parents join a synagogue (luckily it’s Portland so there was a nice hippie reconstructionist place, but even that was too much for them, they quit the day after her bat mitzvah). She’s also a pescetarian who doesn’t eat shellfish.

        Another friend of the family is a “Lu-bu”** who is into zen and all sorts of alternative medicine stuff. In 2004 he had a giant fight with his son because his son wanted to enlist in the army to fight in the Iraq war.

        *Jewish-Buddhists, not sure how to spell it.
        **Lutheran-Buddhist

  14. This is freakishly timely, though it’s not my story so I don’t want to elaborate even here. But I can verify that good kids get caught up in this stuff.

    I was no trouble whatsoever. When I think about my high school years here’s a mistake I feel guilty about: neglecting to track when I needed to apply for the National Merit Scholarship, so that my parents and I had to rush through the application (after I found out about it from a classmate) and drive to a faraway post office late at night to get it in by the deadline.

  15. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke. I rode horses, played D&D &, one daring night, stayed out late with my gaming friends until nearly midnight. Then I requested a curfew so I’d know when to come home and wouldn’t be wracked by guilt.

    i’m voting for one of the things that enable more noteworthy mischief these days is the social media. People know where you are and aren’t thanks to that – I would bet that some of your son’s friends knew about your family trip as soon as your son did and planned accordingly. Which sucks (yay for the incoming security system!) and which also makes me very glad that both our girls are done with high school.

    Eldest shared a saying from her university friends. Students want three things: a social life, good grades & sleep. Trouble is, you can only ever have two! (Ah well, this year she reports she’s finally getting all three.)

    1. I rode horses too from age 9-15. Didn’t have the time to commit for daily riding/showing in high school. It was THE best thing to keep me busy and out of potential trouble. Also was another “group” that I was a part of – like having a variety of groups for kids. If there are friend troubles in this one, then there is “that” one to hang out with.

      1. sandrat212:

        “I rode horses too from age 9-15. Didn’t have the time to commit for daily riding/showing in high school. It was THE best thing to keep me busy and out of potential trouble.”

        The 14-year-old has been riding since 2nd (?) grade out at the therapeutic riding place. It’s nice continuity, great for her posture, and was a very nice “typical girl” interest for her to be able to talk about.

        “Also was another “group” that I was a part of – like having a variety of groups for kids. If there are friend troubles in this one, then there is “that” one to hang out with.”

        Very true. I feel bad for anybody with all their friend “eggs” in the same basket.

  16. I just read this piece in the Post: http://nypost.com/2017/02/02/suicide-wave-grips-columbia/.

    I’m not convinced that all the suicides should count as suicides; sometimes an overdose is just an overdose. Nonetheless, it is a large number of deaths in a crop of elite students.

    I was an unnatural child. Looking back, I wasn’t tempted to misbehave. If I had wanted to drink with my parents, I would have been able to, so it wasn’t forbidden fruit. The drinking age was raised after I reached college age, but, um, things were different before the wave of neo-Puritanism that brought in the raised drinking age. I know there were drinking parties in high school, but those kids weren’t the sort of people I wanted to hang around with. I never heard of anyone getting in trouble for having a drinking party on the weekend. There was a rumor that some kid got in trouble when a six pack of beer fell out of his locker at a Jr. High dance. That’s about it.

    I think the increase in the drinking age led to a wilder party culture in our high school. My sister did take part in it; she remembers all of a sudden cocaine showing up at the parties.

    1. Cocaine in high school? You must have attended a very rich high school. Cocaine was rare in my life until my friends and I became high-earning yuppies.

  17. My parents never made a big deal about alcohol. They were contemptuous of drunkenness but never told us to abstain. My sister drank way too much one night in 11th grade and vomited booze and pizza in her bed and on the floor. My mom made her pay for the carpet cleaning. $25 was a lot back when minimum wage was below $4. I didn’t drink till college and then not that much. My sister was a heavy partier in college and ended up in the hospital with mono from burning the candle at both ends getting a high gpa and drinking like a fish on the weekends. My grades were ok. I neglected school for feminist politics and coming out angst. Non legal recreational drugs weren’t that common in our circle probably because it was a blue collar rust belt town and booze was cheaper.

    I’m not sure there is that much you can do to counter the effect of personality. My parents were always aware that my sister was more prone to doing what she thought her peers wanted than I was. She had to cover the cost of some scrapes she got into which I sometimes think motivated her more career wise. I was content to futz around in temp jobs a lot after college since I lived on very little.

  18. Looking back at my undergraduate program thirty years later, I think I see a pretty high correlation with not abusing substances and getting into a good graduate program. Drinking and drugs usage fell across a wide spectrum, but, in general, less usage was highly correlated with getting into a superior graduate program.

    Looking more broadly at the question of “do I think someone became successful,” I see less of a correlation between substance usage and success. Many party types in college became successful in their fields. Many studious people found a quieter niche, or left their fields entirely. There have been many different outcomes.

    I have tried to instill in my daughters the benefits of being social without abusing substances. That is not always easy, especially if the overall culture appears to be abusing substances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s