EDITORIAL: A cautionary tale for parents of teenagers

The York Dispatch
  • Two Red Lion High students died in a DUI-related crash on June 16, 2015.
  • Nicholas Mankin, 16, and Stone Hill, 17, were both Red Lion High football players.
  • A Windsor Township couple was charged last week with providing alcohol to the teens.

Just less than a year ago, the Red Lion community dealt with the wrenching emotions of a preventable tragedy.

Two Red Lion High School students, 16-year-old Nicholas Mankin and 17-year-old Stone Hill, were killed in a fiery crash when the minivan they were in struck a utility pole in Lower Chanceford Township just after 7 p.m. on June 16.

Cody Stern, a 2014 Red Lion Area Senior High School graduate, front, is comforted by Red Lion student Lindsay Wilhelm at a memorial built at the base of a utility pole on Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township for their friends and classmates Stone Hill and Nicholas Mankin on the day after the two Red Lion students died in a fiery crash.
(Dawn Sagert photo)

Police determined that Hill, who lived in Lower Chanceford Township, was driving the minivan between 64 and 73 mph when he lost control going around a curve. Testing determined his blood alcohol content at the time of the wreck was .094 percent. The legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08. Of course, those under 21 can't drink legally at all.

Both Mankin and Hill were Red Lion High School football players with bright futures, both on the field and off, but one tragic mistake ended those future dreams.

Meanwhile, a community mourned two lives that were cut much too short.

A few days ago the community's wounds were re-opened when a Windsor Township couple was accused of furnishing the alcohol to Hill and Mankin on the day of their deaths.

In charging documents, state police allege that Jodie L. Tierney and Stephen D. Tierney, both 45, provided alcohol on a number of occasions to a group of Red Lion area teens, including their two sons.

Each parent is charged with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment and one count each of furnishing minors with alcohol and corruption of minors.

Police: Couple gave alcohol to Red Lion HS teens in fatal crash

The attorney for the Tierneys said they are not guilty and a court of law will ultimately determine their fate.

That is as it should be. This is not the proper forum to assess their guilt or innocence.

Cautionary tale: This whole sad case, however, should serve as a cautionary tale for the parents of teens everywhere.

Never, ever provide alcohol to teens.

That seems obvious. Unfortunately, it happens all too frequently. Anyone who has ever attended high school probably knew of “cool” parents who were willing to give alcohol to teens.

Many, if not most of those “cool” parents would try to make sure the teens wouldn't go anywhere. They would take their keys and insist they spend the night.

But here's a news bulletin. Teens occasionally will disobey adults. They can have a second set of keys. They can steal their keys back from the parents in question when they're not looking.

And a preventable tragedy ensues.

You can't always be friends with your teens: Parents must come to the painful realization they can't always be friends with their children. If that means they lose their “cool” card, so be it.

Parenting a teen may be the single most difficult job a person can face.

Children, on the precipice of adulthood, are convinced they know everything about everything. They are rebellious, and, worst of all, convinced they are invincible.

It's a perilous combination.

Parents, meanwhile, are caught trying to tight-rope a fine line.

They want to give their maturing children some additional freedom — but not too much.

It's a push-pull relationship that will inevitably lead to some ugly conflicts. It's the nature of the beast.

Parents will set rules and the teens will rebel against them.

Occasionally, however, some parents will shirk their responsibilities in an effort to be “cool.”

After all, everyone likes to be “cool.” Everyone likes to avoid conflict. Everyone likes to be loved.

Parents, however, can't always afford to be friends with their teen children. They need to be in charge. That's what they signed up for when the child was born.

If parents do their job properly, chances are good those children will grow up to live long, happy lives.