New column: Ask Communities That Care

A new column written by Communities That Care (CTC) will appear periodically on this site. It will contain suggestions and tips for dealing with family issues. You can submit your questions by emailing them to [email protected] or in writing to P.O. Box 209 in the Heights (11965). All information will be handled with confidentiality and details will be changed to protect your identity.

Parenting is the most difficult and important job we do, so CTC looks forward to helping you by sharing our experience or the expertise of others.

Dear CTC:
When my daughter is home from college, she often gets invited to parties where her friends are drinking. She doesn’t drive drunk but sometimes is asked to get into a car with someone who is impaired or realizes they are impaired after she’s in the car. How do I advise her to handle this without getting labeled as a weirdo by her friends?

Dear Shelter Island parent:
You are correct to be concerned because while it doesn’t happen often, there have been young people seriously injured or killed in drunk driving accidents on our Island. Here are some tips:

At the beginning of the evening, encourage her to make it a practice to identify someone who will be a designated driver (DD).

Some of the bars on the Island are now giving free soft drinks all evening to the DD and/or providing rides home to those who are impaired (Bravo to them).

During the summer, she can call Go Fors taxi at 749-4252; they work late during the season and holidays.

If she doesn’t want to be seen having you pick her up, she can say she would like to walk home, then call after she is out of sight.
If she is already riding in the car before she realizes the driver is high, she can say she is feeling carsick and ask them to stop the car so she can get out and walk home, then call you when the coast is clear. While this isn’t the most honest way to handle the situation, it’s often not a good idea to be more forthright with someone who is under the influence.

Hopefully she will develop the courage to stand up for herself and be very clear about not getting in a car with an impaired driver, despite the risk of being labeled by her friends. This would also make her a good role model for others and might even command their respect. After all, it’s better to be a safe weirdo than an injured or dead cool person. Good luck.