DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of four children, ages 18 to 25. A "practice" they discuss among their friends is the "rite of turning 21," which is to drink 21 shots of hard alcohol.
I'd like to think my children are intelligent and informed enough to know how dangerous this could be, but when I mention it, I get the standby, "Everyone does it" or "It's fine."
I worry myself sick over this, not only for my own kids, but for all young adults. Please shed some light on this practice. Perhaps they will listen to you.
I'm not naive enough to think they won't drink, but 21 shots is not the best birthday gift to themselves. -- WORRIED MOM, MISSOULA, MONT.
DEAR WORRIED MOM: Your children are mistaken. Binge drinking isn't "fine" and not everybody does it. Rapid consumption of alcohol, particularly in large amounts, is extremely dangerous. It has been known to cause severe illness, coma and even death.
This is a topic that has appeared in my column before, in the form of letters from concerned members of the health-care profession and from grieving parents. The rite of passage that your children are discussing can be a "passage" right out of this life and into the next. Only a fool or someone very immature would take that kind of risk.