This will be one of the shortest blog entries ever – simply because I have no idea what to say about it! As regular readers of my blog will know, parental behaviour continues to baffle me but this just blows my mind!
I was at a K-12 school a couple of weeks ago and was told by a couple of primary teachers that they were recently seeing a new phenomenon where parents were holding their child back from entering Year 1 so that they would be 18 in Year 12 when they went to Schoolies! Just having a parent think that seems pretty weird to me but to vocalize it and say it to others, including the classroom teacher is truly bizarre! Then, to actually do it … I have no words!
I held back from putting ‘pen to paper’ about this because I thought it must be an isolated incident and that it was just that particular school and a group of very strange parents but this week I was speaking to some mums after a Parent Information Evening and sharing a few stories and they also discussed parents who they knew who had made similar decisions. I pushed these mums on whether it was holding them back so that they would be of legal age in Year 12 in general (which is still concerning but at least isn’t based on one event they may or may not attend in 13 years time!), but no, the decision was apparently made so that when they went to Schoolies they would be able to drink legally …
These are 4 and 5 year olds and parents are making decisions about their education based on their possible drinking behaviour when they are 18! For years I’ve been saying that it is the parents of pre-primary children that we should be speaking to about parenting and alcohol (as well as a range of other social issues, e.g., bullying, cyber safety, etc) – getting to them early and giving them strategies about how best to be prepared for the bumpy road ahead would be so useful. But I certainly didn’t expect parents of such young children to be thinking in this way. It truly is terrifying that instead of putting things in place to prevent alcohol use, they’ve already given in to the ‘inevitability’ of their son’s or daughter’s drinking, when in actual fact we know there are growing numbers of Australian young people who are choosing not to drink.
Of course it’s a parent’s right to hold their child back from going to school if they believe they are not emotionally or developmentally prepared for that environment and teachers are there to assist them with that decision (apparently it’s a growing trend across Australia, particularly in more affluent areas and is often referred to as the ‘greying of kindergarten’ – there’s a real interesting news article on it in the SMH from 2013). There are a range of things to consider when making that decision but worrying about Year 12 and the legal drinking age should not be one of them in my opinion.