DEAR HARRIETTE: I am worried about my daughter. She is headed to high school -- a large school compared to the one she attended for the last eight years. She has largely been sheltered, even though we do talk about what goes on in the world and how she should take care of herself.
My daughter just told me that a friend of hers from camp was at a party hosted by a close friend of my daughter's, and she was given a spiked drink. She had asked for seltzer and thought that’s what she was given (it was a clear drink). She didn’t identify a strange taste, but she ended up being rushed to the hospital and having her stomach pumped. She had consumed something that made her sick. I often tell my daughter not to take drinks from strange people, but this happened at her good friend’s home. Can you provide better precautions that I can suggest to my daughter? I know I have to let her become a bit independent, but I want to keep her safe. -- No Alcohol Zone, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR NO ALCOHOL ZONE: As a parent, you must remember that every challenging moment can become a teaching moment. Sadly, your daughter’s friend’s experience presents as one of those moments. What I teach my 14-year-old daughter is that when she is at a party -- even when it’s at a friend’s home -- she should not drink anything that she did not pour. She should open her own cans. When she puts a drink down on a counter and walks away, that drink is no longer hers. Vigilance is required for safety now, even among friends.
You should also tell your daughter that it is not worth it to experiment with alcohol -- or drugs. Too many of her peers have been harmed as a result of what started as an innocent exploration.