Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How To Celebrate A 21st Birthday With "Style"?

Dear Tazi:

My 21st birthday is approaching, and this is a big deal to me and I want to celebrate in style. My friends want to take me out for a night on the town, complete with a limousine to chauffeur us from place to place, but my parents (who I don’t live with!) are freaking out and demanding that I spend my “milestone birthday” with them and the rest of the family.

I understand that my parents are afraid I am going to get freaky drunk and do something stupid, but I don’t really like alcohol; I have tired it and it tastes gross. I do like to go dancing, and am very excited that I will finally be old enough to get into all of the good clubs, not just the 18+ ones where the staff watches you like an overprotective grandmother. I have tried to explain this to my parents, but they keep telling me that “It’s not you we are worried about; it’s everyone else!” They are afraid that I am going to end up in trouble because of my friends, and are insisting I spend my 21st birthday at the country club with them for dinner and dancing. Tazi, the music they play there [stinks]. It’s all stuff for older people, nothing like the dance music I like.

I have told my parents that they can plan dinner at the club for another night, but they are insisting that I make my plans for another night. I have told them they can make whatever plans they want but I am going to do what I want and they can’t stop me. I realize that this makes me sound like a bratty little kid, but this is important to me and my friends. I am an adult and should be allowed to make my own decisions. The problem is that my decision leaves me feeling terrible, like I am disappointing my parents. How can I resolve this to make them happy while not selling out to them?

Almost 21

Dear Almost 21:

Something you will discover (if you have not already) is that even though you are an adult and living on your own, you will always be your parents’ child. It is difficult for them to let you grow up because they love you and want to keep you safe, but also because they want to hold onto family traditions – such as celebrating milestone birthdays together.
Turning 21 is a milestone birthday in America because it signifies the next step into adulthood. When you turned 16, you earned driving privileges; when you turned 18, you earned voting privileges; now that you are 21, you are earning drinking privileges and the benefits that go along with them, such as entry to nightclubs where alcohol consumption is allowed. Within the past five years you have gone from someone who is completely dependent upon your parents to an independent adult. While it may seem like a long stretch to you, for your parents it feels like it happened almost overnight, and they are still adjusting to these changes.

While renting a limousine to take you from location to location is a wonderful birthday gift, the purpose behind it – so your friends can overindulge – concerns me. Reckless drinking is a dangerous habit to develop, and can lead to alcoholism in the long run and physical injury and sexual assault in the short run. It is not that your parents don’t trust you, but like they say they do not trust those around you. Being sober can help you keep your wits about you in an emergency, but being surrounded by drunken revelers like those who participate in “I’m Schmacked” events heighten the possibility of an emergency situation occurring. Your friends may be looking to use your 21st birthday as an excuse to overindulge. With all of this in mind, I am going to suggest a compromise that should work for everyone:

Is this how you want to remember your special night?

(Here in the Northeast) nightclubs close at 2 AM or even later, so people do not start to show until 10 PM, and clubs do not start to fill up until 11 PM. This will give you plenty of time to have dinner with your family at the country club, have a dance or two with your Dad, accept birthday wishes from others who have seen you grow up, and then get to the club to go dancing with friends of your own age group. I suggest you have them pick you up at the country club; if your friends have been “pre-gaming” during this time they will most likely be fairly well intoxicated, giving you a preview of what your night with them will entail. At this point, you can decide to stay with your family and send your friends on alone or join them in their revelries. With any luck, your friends are sincere about wanting to celebrate with you, not because of you and will have stayed sober until the main event so you can all enjoy an evening of dancing.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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