17 Year Old Daughter Struggling with Peer Pressure to Drink - How Do I Help Her?

Mary - posted on 07/06/2014 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have been concerned about my 17 year old daughter recently because I could tell something was bothering her. She will be a senior in high school this fall and is a very bright girl who is very focused on sports and academics and has been very trustworthy so far. She has a group of best friends (there are 7 of them) who are sweet, fun and athletic girls. They are the “good” girls – not the nerdy group and not the popular fast group. Because of some things I heard and because I was concerned, I read her journal. She wrote that all of her other 6 friends have started drinking on a somewhat regular basis this summer. She refuses to drink and feels left out because they have been sneaking drinks at sleepovers when she was in the next room, or drinking before concerts and other events that she is attending with them. Then she wrote that she was offered and peer pressured to have drinks at her good friend’s house by the older siblings and possibly the dad (I’m not sure because she didn’t specifically say). She keeps reiterating in her journal that she is strong and won’t do these things but that it is becoming harder and harder to be around these friends because they think that she is too saintly for not drinking and she loves her friends but hates what they are doing. She is fearful that her senior year will be terrible and that she will struggle socially because of this. It’s not so easy to just find a whole new group of friends in your last year of high school. I’m filled with a combination of pride in her strong moral stance but also my heart breaks for her for what she is dealing with. I’m especially angry that a friend’s older siblings or father is pressuring her to drink. Even though we are close, she won’t confide in me with this because she probably thinks that I will over-react and forbid her from hanging out with her friends. I really like all of these girls and am sad that a group of girls who has everything going for them have started down this path of drinking. f I tell her I read her journal, she will be enraged and I will break her trust in me. How can I help my daughter through this difficult period when I have information but she hasn’t directly confided in me?

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Chet - posted on 07/08/2014

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I don't see anything you can do other than maintain the status quo.

There are definitely times when parents stumble on information (or they dig up information) that explains what's going on with their kids. If you read your daughter's journal and it shed new light on a difficult situation maybe there would be something you could do. What you found wasn't the missing piece to any huge puzzle though. Nothing you read suggests that you've been handling things with your daughter all wrong and that you need to take a new tack. Nothing you read suggests that your daughter is in over her head and needs something specific from you.

Try to remember that journals and diaries are often cathartic. People write down feelings to get them out. The assumption is that you can write whatever you need to write at that moment because nobody else is going to read it.

You don't know how heavily these issues are weighing on your daughter day to day, and how much her journal is just a place to blow off some steam and vent some concerns so she can move on. My sense is that if you are close with your daughter, and you haven't seen any enormous changes with her, she's probably using her journal partly as a tool to cope and you shouldn't assume that what you read there is how she feels every minute of every day. Consider that her journal is where she goes WHEN she feels this way.

Try to look at it this way... your ultimate goal should be to have an adult daughter who can withstand peer pressure, make good choices, find happiness and sound relationships, etc, without the intervention of her mother. Moreover, children learn and mature specifically by navigating difficult and challenging situations. Parents need to intervene when things get to be too much, but you have no indication that your daughter needs anything more than what you're already providing. She's not drinking, and she's using a journal to help process her emotions and concerns.

So my advice is to continue providing your daughter with a stable loving home. Continue to talk with her, but understand that she may not tell you everything. I'm sure you're already a sympathetic, supportive parent who makes sure your daughter knows that her family is a resource to he, so continue doing that.

She may have a difficult senior year, she may grow apart from these friends, or she may be a positive influence on them, but even if it's a difficult year that doesn't mean it won't be a valuable year in the grand scheme of things.

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Chet - posted on 07/10/2014

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@Carrie - There is no need to call the original poster rude names. If you want people to take your opinion seriously, try presenting it in a calm and respectful way.

There is nothing in the original post about try to control the daughter or about wanting to know where she is at all times. The concern was about how to help the daughter through challenging peer relationships.

Carrie - posted on 07/10/2014

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>Because of some things I heard and because I was concerned, I read her journal.

Mistake number one. You stupid prick, invasive mom,


>And for those who will say that I shouldn't read her journal, I feel that this is important for me to have this information because after reading this, I realized that there were a few situations where a few of the girls were driving after drinking.

So what? That's a strawman argument. Doesn't justify invading her privacy. Get her a GPS collar and force her to wear her all the time while you're at it.

You are WAY overcontrolling, you disrespected your daughter and broke the trust link. How the HELL could you read something so private you snooping *****

Mary - posted on 07/07/2014

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Evelyn, I agree that I would rather have had her talk to me about it but she has become very private since she turned 17 and is not as open about things. She did talk to me earlier in the year when she went to two school dances and found out that there would be alcohol at the after-parties so we talked about it and she decided to attend a different alcohol-free party. I was very calm about it and didn't freak out and call the other parents - thinking that this would make her be more open with me again in the future. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to talk to her about peer pressure in general and see if she opens up to me. I feel it is better for me to have this information so that I can deal with it rather than stick my head in the sand. The parents who aren't engaged and investigating what is going on are the ones whose kids are drinking in their rooms. I found out that some of these girls came to my house last week after they had been drinking - they were meeting at my house to attend a concert. My husband and I are not naïve parents and we didn't even realize that some of them were buzzed ( there were only here for 10 minutes) I can only pray that the girl who was driving all of them hadn't been drinking.

Mary - posted on 07/06/2014

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And for those who will say that I shouldn't read her journal, I feel that this is important for me to have this information because after reading this, I realized that there were a few situations where a few of the girls were driving after drinking. I don't think that my daughter was in a car with someone who was drinking but I'm afraid it could happen. My daughter is extremely aware of our strict stance on this issue. My husband is an emergency doctor and it has been drilled into her head to never get in a car with anyone who has been drinking.

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