It’s a case of strict tradition versus a highly taboo topic.
In the year of 2014 it is safe to say teenagers of all backgrounds and ethnicities experimenting with alcohol and party drugs is nothing new. But only recently, as in the last ten years, has the shift began to occur in south Asian youth, in which they have become more open to the idea of drinking and partaking in the party culture in general.More and more high school students from the Indian community are dabbling with underage drinking and/or marijuana usage throughout their high school and teenage years. Along with these issues, is also the emergence of the digital age and the popularity of social media amongst not only teens, but all demographics.With the majority of kids on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube, anything embarrassing and newsworthy that happens at a party will likely make its way onto the internet, where it is highly likely to become permanent public property. This means that if you decide to let your drunk self make an appearance at a party, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to relive it the following day and days after that via Facebook photos or even YouTube clips.
Growing up in a culture where the traditions are strict by nature, south Asian youth are taught that most ‘Western’ practices are bad, these including drinking, smoking, drug use, premarital sex, scantily clad clothing, dating, along with so much more. A tight leash is kept on the kids, which, naturally makes them want to explore the things they are banned from. Strict parenting often works the opposite way in which it is intended. Most south Asian parents who immigrate to Canada from overseas are desperate to raise their children with the same traditional values as they would back home, disregarding the pressure their children will be going through at school to modernize themselves to North American culture, creating an inevitable friction between parent and child. Most significantly, it gives the child an excuse to lie if there is a lack of trust already in existence.
But what exactly occurs at these parties? Are they as scary and deadly as parents have in mind? Probably not. In most casesits girls coming from home with big, oversized hoodies on with more revealing clothing on underneath that they will change into at the party. Its loud, explicit hip hop and rap music being played. It’s a bunch of kids trying to be more appealing to the opposite sex. Of course a lot of times people do get drunk, there may be a minor fight that is talked about for a couple days after, but it is not that often that anything majorly dangerous occurs, which is why it is so important for mothers and fathers to talk to their kids about smart partying, especially our young girls.The occurrences at house parties are no different than what happens on a Friday night at a club, which is where probably every young adult will go to at least a couple times in their lives, so developing smart habits in youth is not such a bad idea.
In the generation our grandparents grew up in, or even our own parents’ generation, the youth of those times would not have even thought about attending social gatherings in which the opposite sex would be present. It is clearly evident that times have changed, but what exactly has caused this change? Of course, there are always the cookie cutter answers of teens wanting to ‘fit in’ or succumbing to peer pressure, which may rightly so be the reason, but when it comes to the youth of the south Asian community, the answer may just be as simple as lack of freedom and trust on part of the parents.A more open line of communication is needed between teenagers and parents to discuss the temptations and issues being faced by today’s youth, in a safe and judgement free manner. The taboo around underage drinking put in place by south Asian parents must be removed in order to successfully implement proper education to teens about the topic and creating a safer community.
The bottom line is that teenagers will do what they want to do. Rather than treating the child with a lack of trust from the beginning, talk to them and establish open lines of communication. Create a relationship where the child can be open with the parent. For many kids who go and experience a house party, they discover it is not even a thing they enjoy, while others really do. When it comes down to keeping our youth safe, talking goes miles longer than any other tactic.