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Are things getting worse or am I just getting older?

I have just read an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald today entitled “Do you know what your daughter is doing tonight?”.

And I am sitting here with shivers running up and down my spine.

The girls in the article are 17 and 18. They are six years older than my daughter. What they are doing, and their attitude to life, astounds me.

The article is written by a journalist in her early 20s who followed three girls around night-clubbing and partying for a month.

I am not commenting here on whether it is ‘good’ journalism or not. Far be it for me to comment on a real  journalist’s work.

What I am commenting on is the way the girls in the story lead their life. Observations like:-

Theirs is a world in which giving a boy a blow job in the toilets is “pretty slutty” but you’ll shrug it off the next day. They
“pre-load” — drinking a bottle of champagne while getting ready — then share another on the train on the way into the city. It’s all LOL, DTF (“down to f…”, the latest way of gauging whether a girl will “put out” or not), “wet pussy” shots and “f… buddies” (friends who have no-strings-attached sex). Waking up not knowing where you are is not unusual. Five nights out a week isn’t, either.

I started drinking one weekend when my parents were away, supervised by my older sister and her boyfriend.  Along with two friends I sat on our front porch, drinking the aptly named “Spumante” and promptly proceeded to vomit all over my mother’s pride and joy – the pampas grass.

I was about 16 years old and it was a good year or so before I was brave enough to drink again. My sister had made me clean each and every strand of the pampas grass – I was not in a hurry to repeat that experience.

A more innocent me in front of said pampas grass

When I did start going out socialising and drinking at 17, I did so with my parents full blessing and knowledge. As the youngest of seven children, they had already seen and heard everything and knew I would drink with or without their approval. So they preferred to know where I was and what I was up to, rather than fruitlessly trying to ban me altogether.

I was always someone who enjoyed a drink or three, especially during Uni days when drinking nights were Wednesdays to Saturdays every week. And yes, I would have to put my hand up and admit there were times when too much grog got me into trouble. With bad boys, vomiting in inappropriate places, even a Drink Driving charge – when I didn’t actually have a licence. I was a girl who loved to drink, dance and party and I did all three, often.

I’ve heard stories of the exploits of my Gen Y nieces and nephews and I  have been amazed at how much further they took their drunken escapades than my friends and I ever did. Certainly for all our (mis) adventures, we were never kicked out of a pub or club. That I can remember anyway.

So when I read this story, it seemed the gap between my  behaviour in my “naughty” years and teenagers today has widened even further.

Which, quite frankly, terrifies me. Especially as today we know so much more about the damaging effects alcohol has on teenagers brains.

But mainly this terrifies me because I am afraid for my Chloe. That something like this could be in her future, even though it seems so unlikely when I look at her today. My beautiful, innocent girl with a kind and generous heart.

What lies ahead for my girl?

What can I do as a parent to make sure she doesn’t become this kind of teenager? Do I need to give up the vino and champers to set a good example?

Or am I just over-reacting? Looking back with rose-coloured glasses and loosing all perspective.

As Meg, one of my young journalism friends commented about today’s story – “Young people party. Some do it too much. It has been thus for decades. This is just wowserist nonsense being drummed up to worry parents”.

I’m praying “to a God I don’t believe in” she’s right. And that I’m just showing my age.

Ali.

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