I believe that the drinking age should be 18. At this age I am old enough to smoke tobacco, get a piercing and tattoos, change my last name and live on my own yet I cannot taste alcohol. I believe that if I am responsible enough to go to war then I am responsible enough to sip a martini with my mother and laugh over a beer with my father.
When I was in Spain for a month a few summers ago, I saw the difference between the “American teen” and the “European teen”. The American teen drank as much as he could as fast as he could, guzzling beer and hard liquor faster then the bar tender could serve him. The European teen on the other hand drank casually and classically showing adult-like traits to his poise and maturity.
At the end of the night the American teen was in the bathroom, spilling his dinner all over and making an extraordinary mess of himself while the European teen strolled off into the night coolly and without incident.
It’s amusing, the American teen is. Everything about us is semi rebellious or at least we think it is. We drink and smoke at young ages, get into pompous fights, find ourselves blacked out and hung over, hurt and regretful the next morning then we call our selves “bad ass”. The average American “bad ass” is the worlds “dumb ass”, he is loud, obnoxious and stupid; he finds himself to be the most attractive of any group and plays “cool” with the ladies making sexual jokes that only he and his guys understand and, as long as he gets a laugh, he’s “the man”.
Lowering the drinking age to 18 would, or I hope it would, eliminate the American bad ass. The drunken teenager staggering down the street because he or she can only access alcohol at certain times hence binge drinking him or herself to black out and memory loss. Do we really want our American dream to be stuttered with ‘did I use a condom’ mornings and hangover football games? Is the American parent so ignorant to the fact that they’re sons and daughters are going sleepovers and birthday parties only to loose our virginities and throw up cake?
I ask because I am not a parent, I am 18 but some day I hope to be a parent. I want my kids to be truthful with me, I want them to gossip with me and to be responsible. I will teach them responsibility through substance. I will teach them that dope, marijuana, coke and any other drug are bad. I will teach them, through experience, their alcoholic limits. Personally, I’d rather have my child be honest with me about a party and know that they know how much they can handle. My children will know their limits, but do yours?
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.