Ask a stupid question …

February 12, 2015 § 7 Comments

There I was, happily slurping my coffee on a Saturday morning as I scrolled through my Twitter timeline, when a promoted tweet popped up that made my blood boil.

Now, promoted tweets have the power to do that at the best of times, but sometimes they do it so well that there ought to be a prize for them. A deeply sarcastic prize.

Here’s a screengrab of the tweet: see if you can figure out why I was so irritated (apart from the missing word in the picture, of course).


Let’s address the two questions separately – because they are separate questions.

With regards the first question, the closeness of your relationship with your children has nothing to do with your stance on underage drinking. Close relationships with children are fostered through love, listening, empathy, discipline, boundary setting, good family values, and so on.

Sure, underage drinking falls under boundary-setting, but if your relationship with your kids stands or falls on that issue … oy vey. You have bigger problems to worry about.

And as for the second question, what on earth is a cool parent? It isn’t your job to be cool – it’s your job to raise kids who can function as citizens of our society, kids with a fighting chance of a good life ahead of them. Am I wrong?

Using coolness as a measure of your worth in your children’s eyes is like trying to hold an egg white in your hand – you’re just never going to get a proper grip on it. Because what’s cool is not always good for you. What’s cool comes and goes. What’s cool today may be deeply uncool tomorrow. Coolness is irrelevant in parenting.

Finally, being firm about underage drinking isn’t really a choice – it’s the law. We South Africans are past masters at complaining about all the crime, and then picking and choosing which laws we feel like obeying. A new law is proposed and we say: “Who’s going to enforce it?” We speed, we park illegally, we steal office supplies, we smoke where we’re not supposed to, we drink and drive, we allow our children to drink before they’re 18. And by so doing, we instil a similar mind-set in our children – where it’s okay to break the law just as long as you don’t get caught.

I think whoever is in charge of the strategy on this campaign needs to rethink the questions they ask (and hire a proofreader). There are important conversations to be held on underage drinking, but I’m not sure this is one of them.


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