DEAR ABBY: Prom and graduation season has arrived with all of the celebrating that goes along with it. So please print my letter for parents and teens to read — perhaps together.
My daughter was an honor student all through high school. We had a close relationship. I always made sure she knew she could come to me with any problem, whether it be her grades, alcohol or sex. On the issue of drinking and driving, I made her understand that wherever she was, I would gladly pick her up — no questions asked. I have heard that many parents make the same offer to their children.
I firmly believed that my daughter would call me if she needed to. However, she recently decided she could drive home after drinking what she considered to be "a safe amount of alcohol." Unfortunately, she struck a utility pole on a sharp turn and flipped her car over. By the grace of God, she and her friend escaped with minor injuries. But, as you know, many people don't survive such a horrific accident.
Abby, many parents say, "It won't happen to my child." Teens think they are invincible, but tragedy happens to people from all walks of life and all kinds of families. I feel blessed that both girls are still alive to appreciate their second lease on life, but it makes me sad to think about how many kids don't return home each night. Can you comment, Abby?
— GRATEFUL MOM IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR GRATEFUL MOM: Not a year goes by that we don't hear news reports about drinking-and-driving tragedies — and they are not limited to teens. Because of that, I am pleased to print your letter.
What happened to your daughter illustrates that people who have been drinking are not always aware to what extent it has impaired their judgment. And it's not limited to drinking and driving. People under the influence have been known to make more than one kind of life-changing miscalculation because they are tipsy.
Your daughter and her friend were indeed lucky. Not only could one or both of them have been killed, either of them could have suffered a lifelong injury from that escapade.
Parents: Please discuss this letter with your teen today!
DEAR ABBY: I am worried about our little ones who hear bad language on a daily basis. How is that going to go over when they reach school age?
I'll give you an example. My 3-year-old great-grandson called his mother a "dork." When I commented that he must have learned that at child care, she said, "No, he heard it from me." I was appalled.
Then there was the adorable, precocious 2-year-old who said, "Oh, #@*%!" when I dropped something. I looked at her grandmother, who informed me that the little girl hears it from her other grandma all the time.
How can the parents of these precious little children allow this to happen? How do you think it will go over when they call their teacher a "dork" or use expletives in the classroom and on the playground?
— RED-FACED GRAMMA, McHENRY, ILL.
DEAR GRAMMA: For better or worse, children model their behavior on what they hear at home. You can't blame children for not knowing what they haven't been taught. But I can tell you this, no teachers worth their salt will allow a student to be disrespectful in the classroom and let it go. And the person who will suffer is the student.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.