Tradition meets parental discretion

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

Here’s the dilemma: I envision a nice dinner and dance on commencement night for my daughter and niece who graduate from Portales High School in May. My daughter envisions a night of going to other people’s parties.

High school graduation may seem far away, but it’s not, and already, I see a can of worms opening. My daughter and I started talking about this big night and it turned into a debate of tradition versus going against the flow and my exercising parental discretion.

I see this as also breaking cultural tradition. We come from a culture with an entrapping cycle of alcoholism which, in most cases, begins at a young age in seemingly harmless and socially acceptable situations such as graduation night parties.

In my selfish, manipulative quest to keep my daughter safe on graduation night, I picture a fun night with family and my daughter’s friends, good food and good music, in a nicely decorated and yes, a controlled environment. Am I being old-fashioned? A party pooper?

Like thousands, perhaps millions of other parents, should I throw in the towel, forget that I’m the parent for a night and give my child free rein in the name of a “That’s-What-Everyone-Does-on-Graduation-Night” tradition?

It’s times like this that I wish we still lived in Hobbs. When it comes to high school graduation night, Hobbs is a model community. Every year, Hobbs High School holds a Senior Bash for all graduates. Senior Bash is an all-night party which, in previous years, was held at the Lea County Event Center but moved last year to the school’s new athletic complex.

Most graduating seniors in Hobbs attend Senior Bash, an evening filled with games, music and munchies. Security is provided and kids cannot leave. Since all of their fellow classmates are there, no one feels like they are missing out on something else. It was designed to keep graduates safe and alcohol-free on their big night.

Some Clovis churches have graduation night activities. What we could really use, though, is city-wide Senior Bashes in Clovis and Portales. I’m sure law enforcement, as well as parents, would appreciate that.

I’m not saying my daughter is a bad kid. She’s a good child, although certainly not perfect by any means. She’s active in our church youth group. She makes decent grades. She makes curfew. She has good friends and she doesn’t drink or do drugs. I trust her and I believe she will make good moral decisions when she goes off to college.

Nevertheless, the temptation is always there, and it will be running rampant on graduation night. Our American culture seems to give youth the impression that their big day is a license to do what they want. At the risk of being labeled a party pooper, I disagree.

Shows such as MTV’s “Sweet Sixteen” give youth the wrong message that just because they cross into a new stage of life, it’s all about them. And many parents sadly give in. Some parents go as far as to rent yachts for their kids, with no adult supervision, and even provide alcohol and exotic dancers.

I tried alcohol and marijuana in high school, but I quit my sophomore year because it made me feel bad about myself, and I was determined to go to college. I confess though, that I went to parties on my high school graduation night and I drank. My daughter knows. I told her. But I was lost during those years, trying to find my place, and so I went with the flow.

I regret it. Nothing terribly bad happened, but it took me years after that to learn to become my own person and do the things that I feel are right, even when it wasn’t popular. I’d like to believe that my daughter is stronger and smarter than I was at her age.

But still, I ask you readers, “WWYD?”

What would you do?

I’d like to hear from you.