“Me and my kids smoke a joint together sometimes”
“Party with your friends at home, better in my house than on the street”
“My mom gave me my first cigarette”
While to some these phrases sound very familiar, others might remember struggling for that give away moment after a party of trying to get the key into the door of your parents house.
Few months ago, a British mom, Nicola Austen, decided to buy £300 worth of cocaine and a limo to London as a birthday present for her daughter’s 18th birthday, and faced charges as a result.
Sounds like the worst interpretation of a “Sweet 18” party ever, however there may be an argument to do so under the definition of embracing adulthood, but how can the issue of taking drugs with ones parents be approached?
There is evidence*, that children who are served alcohol by their parents encounter less drinking problems than those who are prevented from drinking until an older age, drinking problems tend to be high (but no, Nicola, buying 5.65 grams of coke for your daughter is still not fine).
No handbooks or normative rules on parenting is mandatory, which in evident cases may be troubling, but is also liberating; meaning everyone is given the freedom to choose what sort of parent-child relationship to nurture.
Thus how about a relationship which includes hanging out together as you hang out with your friends? Take it a step further: relationship, which would include going to festivals and parties with your family? A 27-year-old Leah** was telling to The DeBrief, how it’s done in her family.
In the interview she told, the first time she ever spoke to her parents about drugs was after Leah came home one morning at 6am from Ministry of Sound, where she did ecstasy. ‘Mum and Dad said that they knew I’d been taking drugs because I had eyes like dinner plates. They asked me what I’d had, so I told them and they asked me how I felt.’
Honesty is really important in her family, Leah says. ‘You can blatantly tell when somebody’s had a couple of pills or some MDMA, so I would never have bothered lying. I don’t lie and my family doesn’t lie to each other.’
Leah thinks having parents who occasionally went out raving actually made her feel less pressure to try drugs than her peers. She never had a conversation with her family where they would strictly forbid it, thus as she says, she did not have to rebel against it.
Her parents started to go out only during the time they were divorced, and then later remarried. She recalls the first time she saw her parents raving was at Pacha, where her parents also happened to be with their mates. Without explicitly discussing both knew the situation: ‘We were all at the bar buying a drink and I knew that they’d [done it] and they knew that I had and it was what it was.’
‘It’s not like we sat there and had lengthy conversations about getting high, but once they realised I was an adult and thinking for myself it was all kind of out in the open.’
‘They told me not to drink too much, always drink water and be careful. The conversations about it just happened really naturally.’
So what’s it like to go raving with your parents? Leah has been to Global Gathering and SW4 ‘countless times’ with her parents, their friends, her friends and her older brother, as well as other gigs, clubs and even Ibiza.
‘It’s normal for us,’ she says. ‘It’s like going out with a bunch of people that you’d normally go out with. It doesn’t feel any different because all my friends get along with my parents so well. It feels familiar. It doesn’t feel like, “Oh god, I’m out with my mum and dad.”’
Even though Leah says people react at first negative on her parents doing drugs in front of her. Therefore when she’s out with them, she introduces them to people not as ‘mum and dad’, but by their names. But, when people realise they’re related, most often they just say, ‘I wish I could go out with my mum and dad. That’s so cool’ – the girl says.
The girl says she wouldn’t have had it any other way. ‘We all spend a lot of time together – there’s rarely ever any negativity, ever. I guess if somebody else overheard what we talk about they might be shocked, but I think it’s funny and we’re all having fun…’
*Heath, D. B. (Ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. London, England: Greenwood, 1998; Peele, S., and Brodsky, A. Alcohol and Society: How Culture Influences the Way People Drink. San Francisco: Wine Institute, 1996; Hanson, D. J. Preventing Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol, Culture and Control. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1995.
**names have been changed
Source: The DeBrief