DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a nightclub with some of my friends from work, and while I was there, I saw one of my neighbor’s children. This guy has got to be underage. He is tall, so maybe that’s how he got in, but he’s definitely under 21. He was hanging out and drinking with a group of young people. He never seemed to get out of control, but he shouldn’t have been there, and he shouldn’t have been drinking. I spoke to him, so he knows that I saw him.
Should I tell his mother that I saw him? I know kids like to push the envelope. He may even have a fake ID -- I don’t know. I’m not trying to get him in trouble, but I think his mother legitimately should know that her son was in a place where he was too young to be. How should I address this? -- Minor Infraction
DEAR MINOR INFRACTION: As a parent, I would appreciate a heads-up if a neighbor saw my child at a nightclub. I would want to know even if my child was of age. What’s important is for you to share the facts without emotion or judgment. You should tell your neighbor that you saw him and what you observed about his behavior, including that he was always in control of himself when you saw him.
Many young people experiment with alcohol well before their 21st birthdays, but it is also smart to tell the mother that you saw him drinking. Safety is a serious concern for anyone who drinks. Who knows how he and his friends were traveling? In any case, informing his mother should prompt a conversation between them that may lead to him making smarter choices.