Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine

I’ve been invited to a party after graduation. It sounds like it will be a fun time, but I can’t be sure if there will be drinking. I really want to be with my friends that evening. What should I do?

New Era

By the time you are ready to graduate from high school, you are, in many ways, grown up. You may now be able to vote, and, in the eyes of the law, are considered an adult. However, part of being grown up is learning how to stand up for yourself and make good decisions on your own.

Most students attending high school have already learned to deal with peer pressure, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and standing up for their values and morals. But graduation parties often seem to be an opportunity to make exceptions, to prove, so to speak, that you are now a grown-up and can do what you want.

Don’t fall into that trap. Graduation parties are just the first of many social activities you are going to have to make decisions about attending. When you start working, there may be meetings, conferences, or socials you are required to attend where alcohol will be served. When you go to a university, unless you choose to attend a Church-sponsored institution, you will have many opportunities to attend parties that you should turn down. In other words, as long as you are considered grown up, you might as well start acting like the type of grown up you would like to be.

How do you make your decision about this party? First, talk to the host or hostess. Ask if alcohol is going to be served. That may be all it takes to make your decision. If alcohol is going to be served, then you should not attend. The reasons not to attend are compelling. In many states, it is illegal to serve alcohol to those under 21. You certainly would not want to associate with those willing to break the law. In states or countries where the drinking age is lower, then your personal standards must take over. Generally, you should avoid situations where alcohol is served if possible. A graduation party, unfortunately, often places undue emphasis on drinking. People are often expected to drink too much, stay out too late, and participate in activities they should not participate in as a rite of passage. Graduation can easily become a night of regret and tragedy. The stories of those who are involved in accidents or are abused at graduation parties because they have been drinking are many. Knowing that, you would be better off avoiding the party altogether.

Talk it over with your friends. See if you can come up with a planned activity that would be more in keeping with your beliefs. Sometimes parents are anxious to help plan a safe, fun graduation activity. See if they have any ideas of what would be fun to do the night of graduation. You don’t need to undermine the plans of others for parties, but if it becomes clear that drinking will be involved, turn down the invitation. And, if alcohol is brought to the party, then excuse yourself and leave. Make sure you have transportation planned in case you must leave the party early. One party is simply not that significant in your life. If you have to miss it, then miss it.

If you are unsure about your decision, go to your most trusted advisers—your parents, your Church leaders, and, most of all, your Heavenly Father. Learning to listen to the guidance of the Holy Ghost is one of the most valuable things you can learn. Remain prayerful and steadfast to the things you know are right.

Readers

If there is a possibility of alcohol being at the party, you can count on it being there. If there is alcohol at the party, then you won’t want to be with your friends that night. Seeing my friends drunk once was enough for me. When people get drunk, they tend to embarrass both themselves and you. What I would do is make sure that the night ended on a good sober note. You will have better memories if you do.

Daniel M. Sickles, 17 McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania

Why lower your standards or put them at risk with temptation? If you want to be with your friends, have a good time doing some other enjoyable activity. Set an example by making the right choice to not risk being associated with the drinking party.

Kerilyn Bound, 17 Mayville, Wisconsin

What is right is not always popular. What is popular is not always right. If you do go to the party, and when you get there, you realize that it is not a place you want to be, find a way home or call and have someone come pick you up. Your friends will most likely respect you for your decision to uphold your standards. And who knows, some of them may even choose to follow the example you have set.

Julia Wilcox, 16 El Dorado Hills, California

I would first find out who’s going to be at this party. If they are the kids who don’t obey the Word of Wisdom, don’t go. Heavenly Father has so many blessings in store for you if you would just obey his commandments.

Josh Tygard, 15 Cameron Park, California

It sounds like a hard decision to make, but if you pray and trust in your Heavenly Father, then you will get the strength that you need to make a good decision.

Brittany Tuft, 14 West Jordan, Utah

Ask yourself some questions first, like: What kind of atmosphere will be there? Will there be some kind of adult supervision? Do my parents know where I’m going? If you don’t know whether or not there will be drinking, don’t go. If you don’t know if something is right, then don’t do it. Events like these are times to spend with your family and friends together in a safe environment.

Maeva Cromar, 15 South Jordan, Utah

[photo] Photography by Welden Andersen. Posed by models.

[illustration] Alma taught the newly baptized believers gathered at the Waters of Mormon that they should “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). We should not make exceptions to our values or standards even for one night or for one party. (Painting detail of Alma Baptizing in the Waters of Mormon by Arnold Friberg.)