Taylor - GrogWatch - 26 Mar 2013

Why parents shouldn’t be best friends with teenagers

I’ll never forget the night I drunkenly fell into a campfire. I see the burn scars every time I look into a mirror.

At the time it happened I was 15 years old and had drunk eight cans of vodka and orange from a 24 can carton bought and given to me and two school friends by the father of a friend whose place I was staying for the night.

We lit a campfire and started to drink the cans on our own, on the family’s property in country Tasmania. The three of us drank the entire carton and, after consuming the eight cans, I passed out and fell into the campfire, badly burning myself.

When the parents were woken they decided to take me to hospital and on the way the father told us that nobody could find out what had really happened because he would go to jail.

The doctors told me if I was in the fire for a few more seconds I would have died. I was in hospital for a long time and it really sucked. I had to go through heaps of surgeries and I missed out on so many things. It was the hardest time of my life and I still live with the physical consequences today.

My injuries were severe, but after I finally got out of hospital I dealt with it. I think the fact I got over it so quickly is a testimony to my faith. Now I just say: ‘This is me. I’m Taylor with the scars’.

I’m now 23, and I’m regularly invited by schools to speak about my experiences. I also talk about my burns with young people at The Rock Community Church in Penguin on Tasmania’s North West coast where I now work as a youth pastor.

I tell others my story. I thought it was cool to drink, but it was a decision I wasn’t ready to make. I tell them, ‘Wait until you are 18. It’s not that exciting.’ These days it’s so hard to be a young person. That’s why there needs to be people looking out for you.

I qualified as a carpenter but I decided to work full-time as a youth pastor. I don’t have any children of my own, but I suggest parents be firm about drinking alcohol.

I think, today, there are always kids having parties and there is always alcohol available. It’s a hard one for parents, but they need to be fair but firm. You need to be a parent not a best friend.

Taylor Forward