Ask Willie D: My Dad Just Beat Cancer, Now He's Smoking Again. Help!
[Editor's note: Rap pioneer and Geto Boys member Willie D answers reader questions for our sister paper, Houston Press. Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!]
I ALLOW MY 8-YEAR OLD TO DRINK ALCOHOL
Photo courtesy of Peter Beste
I hosted dinner at my house to celebrate my 8-year old son's first place finish in a track competition. He had never competed in any sport before hence this was a pretty big deal. His father and I wanted him to feel special so we allowed him to have a glass of red wine. That gesture touched off a heated exchange between my mother and me. She was livid that I thought it was appropriate to serve a child alcohol even though it was watered down.
The dinner turned out to be a dud and I didn't speak to my mom for a month. She argued that alcohol effects young children's hormones and stunts growth. I inadvertently blurted out that when I was growing up, sometimes my friend's mother served us alcohol at dinner and we were just 10-years old. It didn't stunt our growth and we didn't become alcoholics.
That opened up a whole new can of worms because my mother confronted my friend's mother - who she's been friend's with for over 30-years -and now they don't speak at all. I would like to get an objective opinion on this issue. At what age is it appropriate to allow your kids to drink alcohol?
I almost vomited reading your letter. My first response was, "what kind of parent would serve alcohol to a child?" After doing a little research I found out all types of parents engage in this practice, with Europeans, led by the French, being the biggest participants. Many French people believe that if you allow children to drink alcohol at an early age, in a controlled environment, under adult supervision, it will teach them to be responsible drinkers in their teens and adulthood.
If that is true, why not put your 5-year old in a room with another 5-year old or an adult and watch him or her have sex? After all, sex is a more natural desire than drinking alcohol. If they're going to do it they may as well do it responsibly while an adult is present right? Allowing your child to drink is like playing Russian roulette. Because of the early exposure to alcohol some kids will develop a taste for it and become alcoholics and many of them will die of alcohol-related illnesses.
If you believe what you believe because that's how you were raised then I can get it. But don't give me that lame foolishness about, "if you forbid kids from doing something it makes them want to do it more so you may as well let them do it." Stand up, grow a spine, and parent. Stop following society and letting your kids decide how you're going to raise them.
Many children turn out messed up with and without being exposed to alcohol at an early age. But lets keep it real. Consuming alcohol is a bad habit. A parent's job is to instill good habits in their children not to teach them how to conform to bad ones.
PLANNING MARRIAGE BUT SKEPTICAL OF LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
I've been with my wonderful girlfriend nearly four years now, and after much careful thought and consideration I think it's finally time to pop the question. I have no doubt she will say yes, but my fear is long-term - no couple ever goes into a marriage wanting or expecting a divorce 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. And without wanting to pry into your personal life too much, I know this has happened to you as well, just like so many others out there.
What's the best advice you can offer in terms of making a marriage work?
When you start dating someone, the moment you find yourself liking the idea of spending quality time with that person you have better stop and think about all the things you don't like about them. Because once you fall in love it doesn't matter if you're compatible or not you're going to keep dating them. Before that happens the wise thing to do would be to ask yourself what it is about that person you don't like and if they never changed could you live with their "perceived" shortcomings without complaining about it or becoming resentful.
If the girl you're dating has a problem with you cursing now, she'll have a bigger problem when things get serious. If you can't accept her inclination to party now you won't accept it when you're married. Trust, respect, appreciation, benevolence, and communication are the hallmarks of a successful marriage. If your relationship is missing any one of those components, there isn't going to be a happily-ever-after ending.