Well I'm a mom to a 20 year old son and a 17 year old daughter (and a 13 year old son). I know my oldest son drinks with his friends on the weekend usually 1-2 times a month. He's been doing it for a few years even before he was diagnosed with Crohns. Are we happy that he drinks? No. In the past year, since he was diagnosed, I've tried to educate him about his Crohns and what may or may not affect it, including drinking. Overall he is a wonderful guy, rarely giving us any trouble. Over the past few years, through high school graduation, college and work, we've seen glimpses of maturity. Not always but hey, I don't think I really became an adult until I was close to 25!
Most important, the number one rule is no drinking and driving OR getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. And it is something that he has always agreed to. Since I know we can't stop him from drinking, we've decided to generally be available to pick him up. If he knows he will be drinking, he either gets a ride from a designated driver or he will ask me if I will pick him up. He is usually respectful enough to make sure that he is picked up at a reasonable time (for me it is between 1-2 am since I am a night person). Once in awhile he will spend the night at the house they are drinking at however he doesn't really like that. Partly because he prefers being in his own bed and mostly because of the bathroom issues.
Last Friday he went out but didn't have a prearranged ride home. I had gone out with friends. When I came home the family told me he wanted me to text him. So we go back and forth, him asking what would be the latest time I would want to pick him and a friend up, etc. Well I was tired even though it was not quite 11 pm. Bratcat happened to be at a dance near where he was so I offered that she could pick them up on the way home around 11:30. Needless to say it was too early for him. So I told him to get a taxi. And they did! 2:30 am, $25 for a ride that is just over 5 miles. But he didn't drive or get in a car with anyone who was drinking.
I have noticed that he drinks less than in the past. Still too much for me (and I did my share of drinking at his age but now it's my son not me). Maybe partly because of the Crohns. I think more because the excitement of being a teenager sneaking around drinking has worn off.
For now, Bratcat doesn't drink. Will she? Probably at least to try it. Will she be smart enough to realize how drinking affects your body? I hope so. I do know that the same no drinking/no driving rule will be enforced.
As I said in the beginning, we don't condone the underage drinking. But it is a reality. Our telling them not to drink won't make it happen. Each time my son goes out, I remind him not to drink too much. Or drive with someone who's been drinking. And I try to see how much he had to drink at the end of the night. This is a serious issue but we have learned to pick and choose our battles. I would much prefer to keep the lines of communication open between us.
BTW, all our children know that we are there for them unconditionally. They've all been taught that if they are in an uncomfortable situation, we will come get them, no questions asked (at least at the moment). We've told them they can use us as the bad guys to their friends. Which is a bit funny because we are considered the cool parents. But they know (and most of their friends know) that they can count on us.
Julie, you've done nothing wrong. Don't beat up on yourself. Keep the communication open with your son. You can let him know you don't approve of his drinking. Ask questions. Who was there? Was a parent around? Do they know there was drinking (you'd be surprised). I often wait until the next day or another time to ask the questions. The kids aren't on so much of a defense. Someday, the lightbulb will go on over his head. In the meantime, the only demand I would truly put on him is to not drink and drive with anyone who's been drinking. It sounds like you are raising great kids.