My Teen is 16 years old.  He’ll be 17 in December.  I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for him to start experimenting with alcohol but nothing, zilch!  No falling in the door drunk, no cleaning up piles of puke and definitely no having to put him to bed in a comatose state.

His friends have definitely began too.  I spoke to a Mum at the beginning of the holidays who’s son had come home a little tipsy after the end of the GCSE’s.  There had been a meet up at the local park and everyone had been drinking.  I knew Teen hadn’t gone to this and I said ‘Teen isn’t really interested, he probably wouldn’t have gone so he wasn’t putting himself in a difficult position’, not sure if I was really believing the words that were coming out of my mouth.

Teen and I discussed the end of term celebrations, and sure enough, he said he didn’t go because it would just be a load of people hanging out and drinking and he wasn’t really interested.  He really didn’t feel he was missing out.  Knowing my Teen, this is absolutely how he see’s things and I have no reason to think he’d lie to me.

I’m definitely on the more liberal side of parenting, and when it comes to alcohol I’ve neither actively encouraged or discouraged it.  My parenting motto has always been ‘restriction breeds rebellion’, and it was something I really hoped would work.  I think I’m a little shocked that it has worked quite so well, perhaps a bit too well.  I’m not going to say I’ve always been the best example over the years when it comes to alcohol, but clearly with being pregnant and breastfeeding for over 3 years now my drinking has been pretty restricted apart from the odd glass of wine here and there.

Teen went to a birthday meet up this week, and I asked, much to Teen’s annoyance of course, if anyone was drinking.  It turns out they were, and Teen ended up helping someone home who had become a little unsteady on their feet.  When I asked Teen if he’d been drinking, he replied quite firmly, ‘I don’t drink, Mum’.

Drink

As I said, I’m a pretty liberal Mum, and I wouldn’t mind if he was, I’d just want to make sure he was safe and talk to him about drinking responsibly.  I’ve found myself having quite mixed feelings about his response which has really surprised me.

Without a shadow of a doubt I am completely proud of him for not drinking when everyone around him is trying it out.  I’m proud that he has a strong sense of self and isn’t giving into peer pressure.  He clearly doesn’t want to drink and that’s a huge relief on so many levels.

However, there is a part of me that thinks perhaps he should be experimenting, with friends he knows and trusts.  While I still know where he is at night and know who is friends are.  Is this the safest time to be exploring ‘having a drink with friends’, but he is still under age and he’s making a sensible and legal choice.  It’s clearly my own social conditioning and history with alcohol that is making me think he should be trying it out.  Research shows that 64% of adults believe it’s inevitable that a young person will drink before the age of 16.  I can quite honestly say I would have been in this 64%, until being proved wrong by my own off spring.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that he’s not interested.  I hope it stays that way, and if he does drink, only drinks in moderation.  Young people can make themselves so vulnerable when they’ve had too much to drink.  Young men are at far greater risk of being attacked when they are under the influence of alcohol than girls.   Nearly 65,000 hospital admissions of young people a year relate to alcohol.  Statistics like this are pretty scary.

We all know the dangers of drinking; depression, anxiety, addiction, yet alcohol use is so prevalent in our culture.  I think I really did believe it would become an inevitable part of his life, part of fitting in.  Of course, it still might, but for now I’m proud of his choices and some of it must come down to my parenting.  That’s probably the bit I find hardest to believe.

I’m so grateful to my son for teaching me that it isn’t an inevitable part of growing up, it’s not a right of passage.  That I don’t have to worry about him just yet.  That gives me so much hope for our young people today.  They can make a different society if they want to.  What have your experiences been?  Do you worry about your child experimenting with alcohol and how do you deal with it?

Image courtesy of freedigitalimages.net and photostock

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. Your son sounds incredible Zena, and a complete credit to the way you’ve raised him. He’s probably seen a lot of drunk people recently and thought ‘nope, not for me’. It’s amazing that he knows his mind so well xx

  2. Every time I read something about your son, he sounds like an amzing lad with his head firmly screwed on, which says a lot about how you’ve bought him up.
    My parents (and I) have the same attitude to alcohol. They enjoy a good drink on the weekend and as teenagers we were allowed a bottle of beer, or a bacardi breezer. The first time all of us got drunk was in front of my parents, which is how they wanted it to be, so they could make sure we were safe. Now, at the age of 28 (in between pregnancies and breastfeeding!) I love a drink now and then but rarely get drunk. I’ve never been to a nightclub or pub and got absolutely steaming drunk – and only been drunk to the point of being sick once in my life. My brothers are typical lads in their 20s – a Saturday night in the pub or up town is their favourite activity, but they’re generally very sensible – and they usually look after each other!
    Well done to your lad for having his own mind and not following the crowd!

  3. Snap!!!!! My nearly 17 year old is the same and I feel EXACTLY the same way!! Mine has only been to one party and is quite shocked at how much some of his friends drink. I’m thrilled, I think, but hope one day he does drink a tiny bit as my step son is teetotal and it is quite socially restrictive. But for now, it’s Ace and I feel very fortunate.
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  4. My son is 17 but looks older so freely admits to getting served in the pub. He doesn’t go overboard though and I have never seen him stumble through the door or clear up the dreaded puke……..hubby on the other hand cannot be trusted when out with friends lol
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  5. What a sensible young man! If it helps you with your concerns, I was exactly the same at his age and actually, I’ve never experimented wildly. I did dabble a bit with alcohol when I was at uni but I simply didn’t like it much, I don’t like the taste or the feeling of being out of control, so now I’m pretty much teetotal. Everyone’s different, and your relaxed approach has probably just shown him that he doesn’t need to do anything he doesn’t want to, which is fab!

  6. I don’t drink alcohol and the same will apply to my kids. It’s sad when people look at me the wierd way when I say “I don’t drink!” it seems like it’s the only way to fit in sometimes. I still have fun on parties without drinking 🙂

  7. My dad always said to me, ‘when you see me coming home drunk, you can come home drunk’. The first time I got drunk was when I was 17 I think and I was at home, drinking some cider my dad had bought for me. It was Christmas and he said he didn’t mind seeing as I’d only got half a year until I was 18!
    I hardly ever drink now. I have Baileys and snowballs at Christmas and I had some wine on my birthday but apart from that I don’t bother.
    I’ve never tried any illegal drugs either and I hope my son and daughters are the same but I do worry about it a lot.

  8. I’m 21 and I’ve never been drunk in my life. You should definitely be proud of your son for not wanting to drink and even more important – for not let others pressure him to do so. Thankfully, my teens are over, but it’s NOT easy to stick up to those who want you to drink when you’re in school. I’ve faced a lot of judgement and people have always wanted me to drink “just one shot” etc.
    The world is so “dependant” on drinking today because so many people see it as the best option for socialising with friends and meeting new people. I truly believe that you don’t have to be drunk for that. I’m not against drinking, I think people should do whatever they want. I respect that other people drink and all I want in return is their respect for me and my decision.
    I love reading about people like your son (and like me). In my teens, I thought I was the only one like that, but I’ve learned that I’m not. You really should be proud of him – you have a very strong son!

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