Mother: “My son (14) has told me that in a few weeks he is going to a party with friends and they are going to drink at home. He hasn’t had any alcohol yet. He is curious about what will happen next, and is looking forward to it immensely. He goes with friends who have already had alcohol and stays with one of them. He asked me not to tell anyone about this.

“I like that he confides in me, but I also struggle with the obligation of confidentiality. My 14-year-old stepson also goes to that party. I can’t say that about my son to my partner, the father of stepson. While his son also starts drinking.

“I told my son that I’m glad he’s honest, but I think 14 is too young. He said he is the only one who honestly says this to his mother; the others would never tell this at home.

“Should I share this with my partner? In doing so, I betray my son’s trust and there is a chance that he will no longer confide in me in the future. Do I have to inform the other parents? It feels bad to let my son go to that party knowing I won’t have him home that night.”

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protecting children

Ina King: “Your answer should be, ‘I don’t like it if you drink’. 14 is too young.’ And if your child does go to this party, I would tell him to come home to sleep so you know how he is doing.

“You are not harming the alliance with your son, but you are protecting him from harmful behavior. We know from research that children use less resources if parents set clear rules and monitor their children.

“Whether you should inform your partner, I cannot say; it depends on how the members of this blended family treat each other. That is sometimes complicated.

“Whether you should inform the other parents depends on the involvement your son has with the other children. If they are friends, I would. Especially the parents where the kids are going to drink. But if you’re informing others, don’t do it behind your son’s back. He has also earned your openness with his openness.”

Play open card

Bass Delivery: “A child of 14 is indeed not allowed to drink yet, that is no doubt, that is too young. That he confides in you of his intention should not affect your answer. And what is ‘confident’? Your son polls you about undesirable behaviour. He sees how far he can go. Suppose he tells you ‘in confidence’ that he and his friends in the city always run a red light on purpose, then you intervene too, right?

“So you want to erect a barrier here. And of course you inform the other parents about this party, as well as your partner. You can wreak havoc if you are secretive about this. Remember the book Partycrash by Roelof Broekman, in which he talks about his daughter’s 15-year-old birthday party that got out of hand. The drunken children wreaked havoc. When Broekman confronted the parents, they turned a blind eye to alcohol use.”