Where are the parents in all of this? (serious dead teenager thread)

I know this happens all the time but it still makes me sick to read about it. A 15-year-old girl goes to a party and dies of alcohol poisoning, after spending the evening drinking shots.


She’s at the party with three friends, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old. The townhouse where the party takes place is rented by a couple of 20-year-olds from the rural boondocks who have just moved into town. (Charleston–“town”–is the home of Eastern Illinois University. The article doesn’t mention whether these two were students there or not.) The girl herself is from an even dinkier rural boondock than they are.

There’s only one person at the party over 21, and he just had his 21st birthday the previous day. So, okay, it’s a whole roomful of teenagers, drinking.

Where are the parents of these kids? I have teenage kids, and when they go to a party, I know where, and with whom, and what’s likely to happen. And yes, we have actually nixed The Cat Who Walks Alone’s party plans on occasion, once when she was 14, because when the Better Half got home from work late and found out whose house she had gone to, he recognized it as belonging to, shall we say, a less-than-savory Post Office co-worker with a frankly promiscuous wife, and he remembered hearing all the coarse workplace stories from this guy about the step-daughter, who was now evidently hosting The Cat at a party, and so Daddy drove over there just in time to interrupt a hot game of Spin-The-Bottle in the backyard, with no grownups anywhere on the premises, either inside or outside. And he hauled The Cat’s furious little ass home, toot sweet.

So I’m trying to visualize her saying, “I’m going to drive 30 miles to a party” and then myself NOT asking, “Where? And, who else is going to be there? And, what are you going to do? And, what time will you be home?”

I notice this girl didn’t even arrive at the party until 10:30 p.m. Where are her parents? She’s out cruising around all night and nobody’s paying any attention to her, and now she’s dead. I feel sick.

I hear you, but it’s hard for even the most strict parents to prevent some of this. IANAP, but I see my friends and their teenage kids. They do like you and know where their kids are going, with whom, etc., but these kids still elude them sometimes by lying and getting their friends to lie. Last year a whole bunch of kids went out to a party at an older guy’s house and eventually one kid killed himself after getting drunk and despondent over a girl. My friends’ kids had told them one thing and did another, and even after the suicide were getting their stories straight among them in case the cops asked. When the minister, at the parents’ request, mentioned alcohol as contributing to the suicide, the kids were angry and didn’t listen to that at all.

I don’t know the solution either, because unless kids are kept on house arrest when they’re not in school, something will happen. These are basically OK kids who are trying to get away with stuff, and parents who are trying to trust them to a point. Also, even though this horrible thing happened, it hasn’t reminded them of their own mortality enough to casue them to change their behavior. Very scary.

DDG I feel your pain.
I’m the single parent of a soon to be grounded for life 16 year old. His dad lives some 30 miles West from sons’ school, which is some 20+ miles West from our house. We’ve taken to me dropping him off at school on a Friday, his dad picking him up from school, keeping him for the weekend and dropping him off at school on Monday.

Well, I just heard from my ex last night that he was out of town last weekend. But, you see, my son was supposed to be at his dads. Now, yes, usually, the dad and I actually talk to each other at some point, but it wasn’t out of the range of possible that we didn’t connect, and it was his weekend to be at his dads.
So, dad and I are having a talk with soon to be grounded for life son (about 2 hours from now). we had no idea. None.

And I’m one of those parents who insist on speaking directly to an adult who promises to be there for parties, said ‘no way in hell’ to him going to a party at a hotel, even if some parent was going to be somewhere, and in cases where I’ve determined that the parents are clueless, have made the statement “even if the parents are home you are not going there.”

Oh man, wring. Is he gonna get it! You guys gonna just tag team blindside him after school? Could you get streaming vid for us?

And I don’t care what he says, he wasn’t at my place. Nope!

Seriously, some parents are lazy, ignorant fuck ups. And there kids are at a distinct disadvantage. And even if a parent is not a lazy ignorant, fuck up, all they can do is the best the can given their limited resources and imperfect information. Their kid will most likely do some stupid and dangerous stuff between 13 and 21. And you just have to hope the scars they incur are not fatal or permanently disfiguring.

Words of wisdom : Never piss off both your parents at the same time, especially if they’re divorced.

yes, and in addition to the ‘you’ll have to work up to just being grounded for life’ status, there’s going to be a special consequence for the specific lies (“your dad is picking you up from school?” yes. “and taking you to work Sat and Sun?” yes. “and bringing you to school on Monday?” yes). Will be leaving in 20 minutes.

back to the OP. I also work with ex offenders for a living, and it never ceases to amaze me how often folks do stupid things thinking it won’t happen to them. About a year ago, a 21 year old college student drank himself to death at a local bar, his parents have set up a foundation in his name giving new college students info on alcohol poisoning.

I always (well, OK, not ALWAYS) read in the paper about 12-, 13- or 14-year-olds who wind up dead or arrested or in some kind of trouble, “at 3:30 a.m.” Excuse me? I mean, even on a weekend, shouldn’t the kids by IN by a certain hour? Or is the concept of “curfew” one of my old-fogey notions?

No, Eve, it’s not at all one of your old fogey notions (and you are about as NOT “old fogey” as they get, dear! :smiley: ) because the town I live in actually enforces curfew.

For real. I know some people may think it’s kind of dated and stupid, but hey - now that certain parts of my town have been annexed in and they happen to be the places with gang trouble, I’m all for it.

I’m sorry but I must ask…were you ever a teenager or were you just maybe Al Gore as a teenager. (Can’t imagine Al taking shots of anything.)

Of course kids slip away from their parents. My 16 year old lies like a rug. Of course I know this now and we have frequent arguments about “trust”. I lied like a rug when I was her age. My mother was either clueless or didn’t give a shit (Didn’t give a shit is more like it. Although she loves to bust my chops now about my child.) I do not care how many precautions a parent takes to ensure their child is behaving as they’d like, teens will find a way around this if they are determined enough. Of course my daughter is a big dumbass and pretty much always gets caught. She isn’t nearly as clever at this kind of thing as I was at her age. And then she’s dealing with someone who practically pioneered lying to their parents and getting over.

Of course you are right to some degree. I’ve had girls come and spend the entire weekend at my house and never see or hear from either of their parents. This has gone on since the 6th grade! Of course many of these girls never darken my door again. That’s another argument. (Why don’t you like her? Well, it’s not that I don’t like the child but obviously she has no parental supervision! And you do, so I’m a little worried about you hanging out with a kid that doesn’t. Get it.)

What I find amazing and this is something that I think has changed some since I was a teen. Why are these 20 and 21 year olds hanging out with 14, 15, and 16 year olds? Believe me it occurs quite a bit with my daughter and her friends too. Most of them are boys mind you. (I find this preditory and creepy.) I can’t tell you how many 19 and 20 years olds I’ve had to explain the situation too. (No you cannot be friends with my daughter. She’s only 15 and you’re 19. Why don’t you hang out with girls your own age?) I can also tell you that my daughter has lied to me on several occasions about the age of a boy she had introduced me too. Now I have rule. You are not allowed to befriend or date boys that do not go to school with you. Over the Summer she introduced a boy to me that had just turned 21 as being 18. He looked it too. He didn’t have a car. He worked for his uncle tree trimming. I had no reason to believe otherwise. Until he slipped it to my sister one evening when he came over to visit. GROUNDED! And he got a nice earfull…(Are you emotionally or mentally defective? Are you some kind of preditor, a pedohile? You do know what that means don’t you? A pedophile is a grown man that is attracted to children. You do realize that once you turn 21 you are considered a full fledged adult? Then act like one and go befriend a girl your own age asshole!)

Believe me a parent must not only be vigilant they must sometimes have a crystal ball.


I was a pretty good kid by all normal standards. I got good grades, didn’t drink enough to even have it register (I lost any taste for bingeing after I cleaned up after some of my more enthusiastic friends, and I had a strong sense of dignity even as a young teen and being stupid drunk wasn’t dignified.) I didn’t smoke. I did try substances of various legality for the first time when I was 16, but never used much at all since it made me stupid.

But my parents rarely knew where I was. They thought they knew, because they asked. But when I was 14 or 15, they always wanted to know exactly where I was going and the simple fact was that I often didn’t know or knew that they would not approve. So I lied. I went to an awful lot of movies that I never saw. I was also active in theater, which meant cast parties. I came out of this mostly okay, since my judgement was pretty good. Considering that my parents had met the person with whom it turned out I was not mostly okay, I suspect that my judgement may have been better than theirs overall. When a situation looked bad, I left. I learned my lesson about that when I was just past my 15th birthday.

I really do have a point here: just as dangerous as the lazy, ignorant fuckups are the parents who want firmly to believe that everything is all right and ignore any evidence to the contrary. My folks were and are like that. They’re activist parents, but their rose-tinted glasses are firmly in place. So they’d get all jumpy about me going to the house of a long-time friend of mine whom they’d known for years and who they knew cared deeply about me, but completely miss out on the important stuff that was going on until their noses were rubbed in it. I could recite a list of all the things my folks didn’t know about until either they were told point blank or (in one case) the cops got involved.

I think that what happened was sad and tragic. I have a young niece in her early teens, and I’d be watching her like a hawk, since I know how kids can blindside you. But knowing what I was like 20 years ago I don’t think I can assume that her parents didn’t think that they knew where she was going, with whom, and what friend she was staying with.

Well hell, I lied to my parents all the time as a teenager, as did at least 3 others of my siblings. According to them, I saw “ET” at the theater about 3 times – I never saw it until it came out on TV. And no one can say that my parents were bad, lazy, whatever - they managed to produce an MIT professor, an MBA, a doctor, a lawyer, and economist and an advocate for persons on death row, as well as 5 and counting adorable grandkids. (Well, they did produce a lawyer).

I think the bottom line is that kids are going to lie to their parents, and they are often going to get away with it regardless of how careful the parents are. The only way to protect your children is to build up their common sense and values so that, even when they are doing something “bad”, they have the strength to resist the temptation/peer pressure to do something “stupid bad”. That’s how I hope to raise my kids.


Parents tend to view their children through rose-tinted lenses. “My little angel would never do anything like that. The teacher/principal/sheriff must be a fascist.” A lot of baby boomers grew up in a (comparatively) repressive society and tried to be “more understanding”. Then their children hit puberty and don’t understand the concept of “no”. And a lot of the worst troublemakers are the ones who can quote their civil rights, Chapter and Verse.

I take some comfort in the fact that the ancient Roman writers used to complain of the same problems among their youth. The pendulum will eventually swing back, and our grandchildren will complain about how straitlaced their parents are.

I wouldn’t bring this up except that your choice of phrase (boldface) echoes my own. But I hope you’re not talking about my folks here, since the reasoning doesn’t work: they’re too old to be boomers, and “too lenient” was not one of their problems (the opposite, if anything.). I know what you’re saying about the “more understanding” thing, but that’s not what it was in that case–they just didn’t want anything to be wrong and my siblings and I became very devious to circumvent a strict environment. Too strict can be just as bad as too lenient, although perhaps less harmful in the long run. I did, after all, have the tools to get me out of the sticky situations I got myelf into.

Dindale’s probably right: teenagers will rebel somehow, and how well they deal with it probably depends on how well the kids have learned to deal with new and dangerous situations. Sooner or later something will probably bite them and you just have to hope that the bite isn’t fatal.

Speaking as a teenager, maybe I’m an exception, but I tell my parents exactly where I’m going, all the time. They know there will be drinking, and drugs.

But they also know I won’t be partaking. They let me sleep over at my boyfriend’s house, too.

The key: Good communication. My parents trust my sense of judgement and we get along just great (most of the time).

I’m not going to go into the experiences I have had with my own kids right now, it would take too long to type. Maybe later when I have more time.

I just wanted to say that my parents were very strict. However, there were many nights that they thought I was safely tucked into bed when I was really at some keg party up the canyon.

In a time when caller-ID was not heard of, it was really easy to tell our parents we were sleeping at each others house and then check in using the pay phone tucked quietly away near the restrooms of the grocery store.

“Mom, we are at Pam’s house now and getting ready to eat pizza and play Monopoly.”

“Okay sweety, thanks for calling and have fun. Bye, love you.”

“Love you too mom.”


I would sleep over at my friends house. Now, my friends mom was sick (she eventually had to be put in a home and died of her illness, but this was much earlier on, when she could still be at home), and we had no problem sneaking out the window at midnight, secure that her mom couldn’t make it down the stairs to check on us. We’d be back by 6 or 7 in the morning.

My friends and I would be sleeping over at each others house, as long as our parents didn’t talk to each other, we were ok. They didn’t catch on that I was supposed to be at my friends house, and she was supposed to be at my house.

I also saw a lot of movies I never made it to. I went to lots of church sponsored events I never made it to either.

My father cared a lot about where I was, which was why I had to lie about it. I knew some parents who really didn’t care, and their kids never had to lie. I guess he trusted me. I had the appearance of being a good, church going kid on the outside. He didn’t know about all of the other things I did, and he never saw a reason to doubt that I was where I said I was.

Somehow I feel guilty about it all now.

I think the point is that you don’t necessarily have to be a negligent parent to have your child sneak away for the night.

My thanks, personally, to all of those who posted about your own personal teenaged escapades. (ok, so I did sneak out of the house one night and wander around, and ok, so I did get mega drunk a couple of times, and oh, well never mind).

I’ve decided to let my son live. (if nothing else, it saves me from having to buy a snow blower for a while, I’ll have a teen around with very little to do)

Most parents think that they can control their teenagers actions, some of them find out too late that thats not true. I think it basically comes down to trust, the parents that don’t trust their kids teach them that its ok to lie and such as long as you can get away with it.

Overprotectiveness and underprotectiveness both cause situations like that. If you don’t trust their judgement they wont trust yours. How many parents have actually told their kids that they can die from alcohol poisioning or told them about the diffrent things drugs can do. I know at least one kid who got alcohol poisoning and had no idea he could. I had no idea I could. Then theres another friend who had sex like 40 times and figured he would not get her pregnant. I didn’t know either(sex ed class consists of listing the diffrent parts of the sex organs and stds).

Myself my dad has only punished me once. Because I respect him enough to trust him.

I could never lie to my mom about big things. Little, things, sure. (No, I didn’t eat the last piece of cake.)
But big things-she KNEW. And I’m a HORRIBLE liar.

I was a big nerd, anyways.

These two phrases sum it up pretty neatly, for me, anyway.

Most decent, average parents try very hard to give their children the tools they’ll need to succeed in life, then cross their fingers and hope the kids remember how to use those tools.

My parents are good people. Smart, kind, caring, loving people who were involved and interested in my life and my brother’s. Protective enough to put their feet down when they felt they had to–or up our butts when we needed it, but lenient enough to allow us to use the judgement they hoped they had managed to instill.

And you know what? My brother and I still did amazing amounts of stupid-assed shit. And when we got caught, we got punished.

All a parent can do is try, and hope the kid learns. Most kids do. Unfortunately, some don’t.

I hate to say this, but:

At that age I was drinking heavily, having promiscuious sex, and barely making it to school. Why? Because I actually had parents who didn’t give a flying fuck where I was or what I was doing. The fact that I got my act together on my own is nothing short of a miracle. I must have had a guardian angel watching me- I never ended up pregnant, raped, or dead.

I frequently drank to the point to blackout at that age and woke up with men I did not know. I once smoked some laced pot and threw up and convulsed all night with friends who didn’t take me to the hospital for fear of getting caught with weed.

Sad but true, there are parents who are not just permissive, but truely just not there. I’m not trying to play the blame game, but I (for one) was looking for love and attention and got it through drinking and sex. My parents simply did not care that I was doing it.