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Teach Your Teen How to Drink

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Guest writer Vanessa Van Petten: I hope this post is not going to be as controversial as my posts on pot, but I did want to post about how I talk to teens about drinking. I often give presentations to teens about the teen social scene and parties.


Drinking games often turn deadly for college students, reports the Associated Press. So how do you get your own teens to drink responsibly?

Let's be real here: If your kids want to drink, they will. No matter how strict you are, how early their curfews are, if they want to, they will find a way. Yet, more often than not kids drink because:
-there is nothing better to do.
-friends push them to.

So, during my presentations, as untraditional as it is, I teach teens how to maneuver a party without drinking, but looking like they are drinking. I decided to teach them to you here, and you can pass them along to your kids. I have had parents confront me about this and tell them it is encouraging them to drink a little, when instead I should be encouraging them not to drink at all.

I am sorry, but this is just not realistic. I wish I had someone teach me these tricks before getting into bad situations at parties when I was forced to drink. These tools are things teens can use to make sure they know their limits. I hate the taste or alcohol, it also makes me fun at all. I also got sick once off of Sake and...let's just say never again.

I will start with the more traditional drinking etiquette.

1. Politely refusing a drink: I always say the less details the better. When you make elaborate excuses like  "I have a game tomorrow," "My parents are waiting home and often randomly check my breath," "I saw cops stopping on the street doing random breathalizers." These are begging to be argued. Other people will challenge you, and it makes you look more suspicious. A casual 'no thanks' works best. Of course, this is the best option. If you can say no, just say no. but, I understand sometimes it is easier to just say yes and make an excuse...drinkers hate to drink alone and will usually badger you until you drink with them.

2. How to lose a drink: Ok, so take the drink, take a mini sip or a pretend to take a drink and then go over to give someone who just came in a hug and put down the drink and forget to pick it back up. This also works well for 'playing DJ,' dancing or rummaging through a purse.

3. How to 'spill' a drink: This works great when giving someone a big hug. You can act a little more drunk than you are and slosh the drink around. You can usually get a good third of the drink out of your cup and onto the floor/person next to you/planter by just waving your hands when you are talking. I have also fed many a plant a particularly gross beer.

4. How to 'pee' the drink: Pouring a drink out slowly and peeing, sound shockingly get the point. In an empty bathroom the sink works too.

5. How to make a mocktail: I always order after everyone else and get drinks from the bar that look alcoholic. I order cranberry juice, seltzer water or 7up in a glass (cheaper too). You can also bring a red Gatorade with you to  party pour it in a beer cup and say its punch.

6. How to take a fip (I just made this word up): I am the queen of fips and I have never been caught...I am very good at this and taught lots of girls to do it. Especially with shots because they can go straight to your head and get you drunk quickly, which is not good. Always, always, always come to parties with a half empty soda bottle. Coke works well half empty. When you take a shot or drink, put it in your mouth and then 'chase it' with the soda bottle, but spit it back into the bottle. It really looks like you are drinking and then the coke is full by the end of the night and you toss it.

7. How to take a shot without drinking: Same principle as above, you can get any other drink at the party as a chaser even an empty cup and spit back into it immediately (it takes some practice at home). Also be sure to slosh the shot glass around before taking it in your mouth so you have less to take in (I can usually spill about 1/4th onto the table or my hands).

8. Pretend to be too drunk to take another: Lets be honest, I have way more fun pretending to be drunk than actually being drunk. Act tipsy and dance around and then when someone offers you a drink, slur something about how you probably shouldn't have another. This can actually be fun because it is amazing what people will do and say when they think everyone is drunk and no one will remember. And in reality, you are in complete control. Honestly, these tips got me through college frat parties. For girls especially, it is important to be more alert than those around you, and boys will pressure to drink. This way, it seems like you are participating...which you are, but you are not too drunk to be taken advantage of and are in control of what you are doing.

next: Dead Girl Taken for Sex Ring
30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous July 8, 2008, 2:10 PM

this is very helpful. i have used a few myself. parents who think that their kids don’t have access to alcohol are just not paying enough attention. Even in middle school kids have access. Saying no is not always possible and parents have to understand that. These different ways of saying “no” allow your kids to still hang out with their friends and not feel pressured into doing things they don’t want to do.

With this kind of stuff parents also need to look to the oldest sibling. A lot of times they are the ones who expose the younger kids to it!

QueenBee July 8, 2008, 3:31 PM

I always made myself designated driver with my friends in highschool. I never trusted putting my life into someone else’s hands when I knew alcohol might be involved, no matter how good of a friend they were. Better safe than sorry I say. So my friends never argued with me nor pressured me to drink because I was the willing party to drive their drunk butts around. I was also the “beer babysitter”. I volunteered to watch my friends drinks (safety purposes) when they went to the bathroom and such. I never drank in high school and as an adult I don’t over indulge myself with alcohol. Maybe its because I skipped being wild and crazy with being the one responsible for the safety of myself and my friends. Now that I’m almost 30, a wife and a mother I don’t ever find the need to get sloshed out of my mind. It seems a little immature at this age.
Also, its true when the author says to just say “no thank you”. I never got the third degree if I didn’t make excuses. I always said instead,”No thank you, but I’ll take a glass of water or a Coke instead.” Most people were happy to oblige my request.
The one thing I wish my parents had done for me that I hope to do for my children is to allow them to call if they get uncomfortable or in a bad situation. No questions, no punishments, no yelling, no anything. Just a simple “Okay, I’ll come pick you up.”

Miri July 8, 2008, 5:20 PM

These are interesting suggestions, but they seem predicated on a really disturbing premise. If someone really doesn’t want to drink, for whatever reason, why should they have to practice doing “fips” and stumble around pretending to be drunk? I spent all of college saying “no thanks, I don’t really drink” when it was offered to me, and it went just fine. How is it better for non-drunk kids to stumble around like idiots in order to pacify the drunk kids?

Almost all of these tips involve lying to people and pretending to do things - which doesn’t give kids much practice at asserting themselves, practicing honesty, and creating non-shallow friendships.

Rachel July 8, 2008, 11:13 PM

I am a mother of two and have never had a drink in my life. I expect my kids to do the same- it is possible. I will not teach them how to “lie” so it looks like they are doing something that is ILLEGAL. It’s pretty black and white to me- right and wrong. If it’s against the law, it’s wrong.

CGH July 8, 2008, 11:37 PM

OMG! I did all this when I was in College! My mom never taught me these things…I just did it because I didn’t like drinking to much! Thanks for putting this out there!

lauren July 9, 2008, 8:59 AM

As a young mother I know first hand what it is to be in those situations…alot of older parents seem to forgot times have changed a lot in the last few years…although I agree that you should teach your kids to just say no…some kids aren’t as strong as others…at least the ones who aren’t know there is another option. I commend the author for having the courage to talk about things that a lot of people believe if they just say no it will go away….sex, drugs and drinking are real problems that we need to address with real solutions not just saying “I didn’t do it so I expect my kids not to”

shoosh July 9, 2008, 11:26 AM

Sadly, I think these are poor strategies. People have a misconception that kids are drinking because it is important socially. However, I believe that kids smoke weed and drink because it’s fun. Thus, I believe in telling your kids that drugs are really fun but they can kill you.

shoosh July 9, 2008, 11:30 AM

Also, the kids are drinking and having sex because they want to. The big problem is the parents not explaining to their children that anyone can have sex but not everyone can raise a child. Tell them not to have sex unless they can handle the consequences. I would blame this problem entirely on the media, which is feminizing/homosexualizing the boys and telling the girls its ok to be sluts.

milady6761 July 9, 2008, 10:12 PM

I can see the point of the author, although I don’t agree that anyone, anywhere should have to lie, pretend, or put themselves in a potentially “unsafe” atmosphere, just to please the “crowd”. If you don’t want to do something.. you shouldn’t ever have to..if these are true friends, they should respect your wishes.
I am not blind nor do I have any unrealistic expectations of teenagers. The booze, drugs and sex are out there for the taking and they are going to do it, whether we like it or not. I believe that our (as parents) best defense is to give our kids the truth and give them our trust to do the right thing.
Thankfully, my daughter was not a drinker and called me several times to come and get her when there were situations she was uncomfortable with.
However, at her graduation party, I let her and a couple of her close friends (with their parents permission) to drink. She was going away to college and I did not want her going away with no idea of what it felt like or what to do. I have told my children if they want to try out drinking … that I want them to do it at home where they can be safe and I can watch over them. With my daughter it worked and she never touched another drink until she recently turned 21.

Anonymous July 11, 2008, 5:01 PM

To Rachel… because you “have never had a drink in my life [and] expect my kids to do the same” — this will probably drive your kids to want to drink MORE because it is so foreign and mysterious to them! Drinking isn’t bad if you are smart about it… the reason kids get wasted is because they aren’t supposed to… look at european countries where the drinking age is much younger and they don’t have problems with youth binge drinking because they are simply exposed to it all the time and it’s no big deal.

stevenbrycesmomm July 14, 2008, 9:01 PM

I think you gave some great ideas but I think first and formost you need to talk to your children about what drinking can do them. Not just the “don’t drink and drive” talk I mean what drinking can do to their bodies and their minds.

Anonymous July 18, 2008, 6:07 AM

I think teenagers drinking is such a big problem in the US because of the age limit. I germany the age limit on beer and wine is 16, usualy teens start drinking here when they are 14, but its not such a big deal, and it doesnt make you look extreemly cool or anything like that. I think drinking in the US is also to feel like you are doing something ilegal, and seeing that drinking beer(which is what most teens do) isnt ilegal after you are 16 makes it seem more casual, and you actualy see 16 year olds just haveing a beer with a meal at a restaurant and its not a big deal and they dont see the ned to get drunk. I myself don’t lke the taste of alcohol but might have a drink at a party if it does not taste to much like alcohol, but i stop when i can feel the alcohol in me. I know that i am not the only one in my grade who doesnt drink and its not questioned, there will always be the people who offer you a drink and ask why not and what ever, and if they ask you to have a sip of teirs (if you know them well) then take a sip and spit it out.
I really think the age restriction has something to do with it in the states, because i can see it in norway(where i am originaly from) where the age limit for beer and wine is 18 and liqour is 20, it is ridiculous, teenagers are gonna drink beer anyways, so why make them get a rush because they are doing somethign ilegal when you can see the trends in europe cmpared to the states…
21 is ridiculous thats a 5 year diference from most european countries where it is not as big of a problem as in the US. Atleast beer shouldnt be 21.

Michele July 25, 2008, 3:12 PM

I let my 16 & 20 y/o sons have a wine cooler/hard lemonade every once in a while. I would rather they drink here at home where I can control the intake then do it out at parties. My oldest son’s GF is in college and almost every pic of her on myspace is f her and her buddies DRUNK off their butts. Kids, esp. the college kids, are going to drink. And peer pressure to do so will be high. I don’t think these tips are that bad, no matter how many times we tell our kids to stand up to peer pressure, they don’t always win that fight. These tips will give them a way to do so.

Jameson July 29, 2008, 1:57 AM

sounds like a waste of good alcohol to me….

collegegirl August 14, 2008, 9:53 AM

If someone is of college age and feels the need to fake drink and stumble around like a fool just to fit in with the “real drunks”, they have bigger problems than figuring out how to pretend to drink. If they are THAT immature, they are too immature to be encouraged how to be successful drunk pretenders.

ToldUNo August 28, 2008, 9:11 AM

Thanks for being real on this subject. I will share this with my teen. Peer pressure is incredible and while my child knows my family values, there is no guarantee they will win out in this situation. So I pray.

I have shared my own experiences with my child, about alcohol. I said, ‘I was the one who held my friend’s hair back while she threw up in the toilet. I cleaned her up, too. I have never seen alcohol as being FUN. The only thing worse than a drunk man/guy is a drunk woman/girl. You are best to leave it alone’. I also was the one who intervened when some full of himself stud tried to isolate a drunken woman/girl or tried to get her to leave with him. To this day, alcohol reminds me, ‘nothing good can come of this’.

I’ll keep talking and hope she listens to me. Otherwise, I’ll get my bullhorn!

beeessyou September 5, 2008, 4:32 PM

well, i am a teen.
i’m almost 15(which i know is a younger teen) and i have never drank.
i have been offered drinks, but i always just say “no thanks”, or “why do something so stupid?!”
I am one of the few that does not drink, on any occasion.
and honestly, i’m proud.
there’s a TON of peer pressure, but I know I can handle it.

Substance abue counselor September 10, 2008, 9:45 AM

What I have just read is disturbing. This behavior of pretending and hiding the choices a teen actually prefers is setting them up for being a manipulator. Just say I don’t care to drink tonight,I need all the brain cells I still have left. Put in plain words…teach your children to be leaders…they can say NO!!!

lkgctqzu dptzbnor September 12, 2008, 9:37 PM

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wolfwill September 30, 2008, 4:44 PM

I think this is true and some teens will go too far and drink out of control even if they don’t want to anymore. these tips will sherly help the young nieve tenns about drinking. it will also help less women teens get raped at a party and wake up not knowing want happened at that party last night and end up having an abortion…

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