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Parental Blindness

LongIsland.com

Parenting does not stop with a college degree. JC is twenty-two and the oldest of four children. Both of his parents are hard working college graduates. He has a wonderful relationship with both of his ...

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Parenting does not stop with a college degree. JC is twenty-two and the oldest of four children. Both of his parents are hard working college graduates. He has a wonderful relationship with both of his parents.


When JC was in elementary and junior high school, he was an average boy. He was a consistent student who excelled at athletics. Socially, he was very active, but respectfully compliant. Every now and then he would come home late for dinner or get an after school detention.


In high school, JC continued to manage his academic life and excel in sports. However, his social life became a little more intense. By junior year, he started drinking. His parents did not discover this until his Mom cleaned his room and found a half a dozen empty airline vodka bottles in the bottom of his closet. She confronted him immediately. He did not lie. He admitted to drinking on the weekends with his friends.


JC's Mom read him the riot act. He apologized for his behavior and promised he would not drink anymore. The promise lasted a week. He started drinking again, but got better at concealing it.


The drinking continued throughout his junior summer and his senior year without incident. He was very clever and continually got over on his parents.


He drank vodka because it is odorless. During his senior year, when he was intoxicated he had a regular routine to cover it up. He would call his house around his curfew time and ask to sleep out at his best friend's house. More often than not, his Mom would say "yes." He and his friends would stay out, drink up a storm and stay wherever.


The next day he would come home around lunchtime looking no worse for the wear. This pattern of social behavior continued until he left for college, with a few exceptions.


In August of his senior summer, before he went away to school, JC went to a "college farewell party." It was held at the beach. His parents feared that he would probably drink, but tolerated the possibility as part of the teenage "rite of passage" into adulthood.


That August party was wild. JC drank and got drunk. The weekend became a lost weekend from Friday through Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, after doing shots with friends, JC was en route home. He was pulled over by a cop and given a sobriety test, which he failed. He was cuffed and arrested on the spot.


A few hours later he called his parents from the precinct. They were devastated, but they came and posted bail. When JC got home, the marathon conversation began. Filled with shame and guilt, JC apologized to his parents. He admitted that he had been drinking regularly and had been getting over on them. They were shocked that they had been so blind to his behavior.


After days of intense conversation, JC's parents wanted him to attend school at home. His drivers' license was suspended. He had a series of new obligations to attend to in order to get his license back and have his legal charge amended.


He was a model son. He did everything that was asked of him without complaint. He continued to express deep remorse and assured his parents that he had learned his lesson.


By the end of the summer, JC's parents relented and agreed to let JC go away to school under certain conditions. He needed to connect with a mental health counselor as soon as he got to campus and he had to promise that he would not drink until he was of age. If he were caught for any kind of drinking offense, all of their financial aid would stop immediately.


Freshman and sophomore life moved along pretty smoothly. JC did start drinking again after mid term his freshman year, but he was very careful and never drank to excess.


At the beginning of his junior year, JC started to get a little reckless. He got a couple of tickets for drinking in public and for underage drinking, but he took care of the fines immediately and kept them from his parents. His drinking was definitely escalating and was becoming a problem.


This past fall JC began his senior year. In less than eight months, he would be a college graduate. He was so excited. He started to look at graduate school programs and talk about his future.


Unfortunately, he started binge drinking on the weekends and passing out. Now he was of age. His friends became frightened because while binging, he started talking about suicide and seeing no purpose for his life. He told his friends that everyone would be better off if he were dead.


Initially his college friends thought it was just the alcohol talking. However, those comments were increasing, even when JC was sober. One of his childhood friends became alarmed and called JC's parents. They came up to school immediately.


His parents were petrified. They knew that JC was not happy and that he was drinking. They did not know to what extent. They talked and talked. He disclosed that he has not been happy since high school. He also conveyed that he has no self-esteem and sees no purpose for his being.


This college senior with a grade point average above the norm is living in an emotional hell. He is fighting the recommendations of the mental health professionals that have evaluated him. They are recommending medication and residential treatment. He vehemently opposes medication. Inpatient treatment he is open to, but only after graduation.


He is still binge drinking. He might not make it to graduation. Hopefully he will, but without insurance, where will this twenty-one year old college graduate go? To be continued...