Virtual Voices

A teachable moment in personal responsibility

Family

My sixth-grader is in the youth group at our church, which meets every other Sunday evening. While I've yet to attend one of their meetings, I'm told the standard food, fun, and fellowship are on the docket.

This past Sunday evening, our pastor was kind enough to bring several of the kids (including my daughter) home after the meeting. I saw them pull into the driveway, so I went out to thank him for bringing home my daughter, whom, as she exited the van in a drunken-like stupor, proclaimed to the world that she'd consumed 12 sodas that night.

She was giggling like she'd just done the sneakiest thing on earth, and I began planning all the things I was going to say to her once we got back in the house. I also started mentally blaming anyone over the age of 20 who might have been present at the meeting and allowed an 11-year-old to consume 12 glasses of soda. But more than that, I started mentally berating myself for failing to have a talk with her before she went (it never occurred to me to give her a drink limit at a church youth group meeting).

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We walked in the door and my husband, Craig, asked her how her evening went. She wasn't nearly as boisterous this time and more meekly told him she'd had six sodas at the meeting. Granted, six is better than 12, but it's still a lot of soda. And why had she boasted about 12 just a few minutes prior?

I questioned her about the actual amount and reminded her that just a few minutes before she said she'd had 12. She confessed to overdoing it in her storytelling, but also realized she'd overdone it at the party with six.

Craig asked her if she thought she'd made a good choice at the meeting. She said probably not. He gently explained to her that the behaviors she develops now are the ones she will carry into her teen and later adult years. He told her she needed to learn self-control now-particularly when it's just soda we're talking about-because if we can't trust her to make wise decisions at a church youth meeting, why would we trust her when she wants to attend parties or other non-church functions?

We think she got the message-particularly when it took her three hours to fall asleep that night (not to mention some extra time recovering from her soda hangover the next morning). Hopefully next time moderation is on the menu. A reminder from her parents will also be.

Here's to teaching personal responsibility. Cheers.

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