If you don't like Romans, don't go to Rome.
anonymous Asks ...
My daughter came home throwing up drunk last night. I am working for a 2 year contract in Madrid. My 16 and 14 year old daughters and my wife have all been here since September. My daughters are fitting in well but it is common here for 16 year olds to congregate at cafes and bars and even go to discos. There does not seem to be any enforced drinking age. I have been holding my daughter to American standards and do not allow her to drink alcohol at all or go to bars or discos. She says this makes it hard for her to fit in with her friends. Should I loosen up and adopt a when in Rome kind of attitude. She is a good and level headed kid but I just think 16 is too young to be going to those kind of places.
Raffi Bilek Says ...
You have a little problem here. You have taken your daughter into an environment that you see as unhealthy. Yet you are unlikely to win a fight against that environment. (It's for that very reason that people often choose to live in environments they see as healthy and in line with their values.) I personally would be more worried about a 16 year old coming home totally drunk than I would be about her not fitting in with her friends - but she, on the other hand, undoubtedly sees things exactly opposite.
You may get through the two years without her getting in any real trouble. I don't know how common it is for young women - who apparently do this kind of thing all the time over there - to be violated, hospitalized, etc. But even if she makes it through, how is she going to behave when she is back in the US having already experienced the wild life?
You are in Rome, but who wants their kid to act like a Roman?
The choices are probably fighting it out with your daughter - which might put a strain on the relationship, and which is likely a losing battle anyway; letting her behave according to local norms, which I can't say sounds terribly safe (though maybe it's just my American cultural bias); or getting her into a different location, either by sending her away to school somewhere else, or moving the whole family somewhere else.
Sorry I don't have an easier answer - sounds like a tough spot.
Lastly, if you haven't talked to your daughter yet about safe sex, you'd better get on that. Yesterday.