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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
sara October 2, 2008, 3:16 PM

in my own oppion u r very right if we want to drink we will no matter how strict our parents r. if parents would take time to talk and explain how much is to much there might be a smaller death rate in teens from alchol.

Janine A. October 5, 2008, 11:23 AM

It is true, teenagers will learn drink. Regardless if you drank or not when you were a teen, it’s really up to them. You can’t inhabit their body and make them not drink; all you can do is show them another way.

Today alcohol is much easier to get than it was when we were children. It is also more socially acceptable. It’s almost a need for teenagers now to drink. Another fact: It’s true but terrible, sometimes if a child does not drink, they get ridiculed.

In the end, which is better? Your child lying dead on the pavement because they decided to drink and drive, or them making a little white lie?

PeerPressureIsAnIllusion October 19, 2008, 5:13 AM

I’m 37 years old. I’ve never had alcohol in my life. Never been drunk. I’ve always just said, “No thanks” or “I don’t drink” and that’s worked out fine for me.

I’m not some weird nerdy guy either. I’ve had plenty of hot girlfriends. My “intimate relationships” are in a respectable quantity of double-digits. You don’t need to drink to “fit in” and be accepted.

There is nothing wrong with drinking. It’s just not my thing. Never been interested. I pity those who actually feel “peer pressure” to drink or do drugs or anything else. I’ve never felt peer pressue in my life. It has never existed for me. Because I’ve always remained true to what I wanted to do and I would never be swayed otherwise by anyone. Period. And I’ve only ever associated with friends and aquaintances who respected me for it. If they don’t, they are not worth my time.

Real Teenager March 16, 2009, 8:48 PM

Just a heads up parents, no matter how smart you are, how unreasonably controlling you are, or how scared your kids are of you, they can (as stated) find a way to drink. Even if your household is 100% alcohol free and have never drank in your life TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT ALCOHOL. Its very important to be truthful about the effects of alcohol and the dangers of parties, drunk driving, and binge drinking. As a teenager who drinks (which my parents grudgingly tolerate)the things that separate me from my peers who get taken advantage of when drunk, drink too much, and drive drunk is the fact that I understand the effects of alcohol, understand measurements, blood alcohol content, and the effects of alcohol on the the mind. Regardless of your stance on alcohol use teach your kids how intoxicated they will become with x number drinks, using an BAC (blood alcohol concentration) chart as well as the effects of alcohol at different BAC levels. Your teen NEEDS to know when looking for a ride home at midnight that the 250 pound lineman from the football team who has polished off a 12 pack of light beer since 3 in the afternoon is a safer (but not safe) ride than the 120 pound cheerleader who has taken 3 shots in the last hour. Your teen should know what BAC and how many drinks in what period of time will lead to blackouts, alcohol poisoning, and death, this alone is why teens die of alcohol poisoning on the couch when they should be in an ambulance or getting driven to the hospital. Teach your teen to gauge how intoxicated someone is looking for the signs of alcohol, with this knowledge will know when to take away someones keys or cut them off. Teach your teen the conversions between different types of alcohol, knowing that light beer and regular beer have VERY different amounts of alcohol (regular is often twice as strong), that an equal quantity of wine is 2-3 times as much alcohol as full strength beer, and as much as 6 times stronger than light beer and that a 1oz shot=1 12oz (regular) beer= 5ozs wine. Teach them what a shot looks like (size), eyeballing (gauging by sight) it in both a bottle and a regular glass is a very important skill, because being with out a shot glass is no excuse for drinking too much. Show them the difference in size between a regular shot glass from a 1.5 oz or 2 oz shot glass. Test them (and yourself) on this one, (even if it means buying a shot glass) challenge each other to pour between 1-3 ounces of water from a regular sized liquor bottle (if possible) into a glass or cup (teens will be surprised by how little a shot is in a glass). Warn your teen about the effects of alcohol on libido (also a good time to reiterate the importance of safe sex). Young men NEED to know that if a girl has been drinking at all, even if he has, any sexual contact could be considered, in the eyes of the justice system, rape! Tell your teen that you know they are smart and that even if they choose to break your rules about alcohol (or anything)they are still expected to make smart choices about alcohol (or whatever) (especially now that they are well informed!).

Also I highly recommend veiwing and showing your teen the very cheesy but very informative ACLU educational video, BUSTED: The Citizens Guide To Surviving Police Encounters ,although it deals mainly with drug offenses it clearly outlines what your rights are, what the police CANT do, as well as a examples of realistic and polite ways to exercise your rights (mainly relating to search and seizure, probable cause and tricks the police may use to trick your teen into self incrimination) in a polite and intelligent manner.

Also even though your teen may be exposed to marijuana at party or by people they are drinking with, the likely hood of preventing your teen from smoking marijuana by prohibiting them from drinking and parties is low. I can say with confidence(as i went through a pot smoking phase)it is far easier to get* marijuana than it is to get alcohol, requires far less planning to use (can be easily used in a car, home, or outdoors with only a small chance of getting caught in the act, and requires no designated driver, and unless in possesion of marijuana/ paraphernalia or smoking it police cant test for it in the field) and is it much cheaper to get high then it is to get drink (as little as $20 for 6 people). For that reason as long as you have a firm stance on marijuana and all drugs with your teen I think parties will not influence their choice to use marijuana.
*easier to purchase than alcohol, alcohol can often be pilfered from parents or shoplifted, and pot dealers don’t card

Anonymous December 9, 2009, 3:40 AM

I really think you should raise assertive kids who are not afraid to say no BUT for those who are a little more susceptible to peer pressure this can work. The spit trick is something I do as a bartender when people buy me shots. No good working drunk. In a very strict household only 1 child out of 4 made it out of my parents home to live a drug free life, so I don’t recommend that at all, I assure you they will rebel even if you don’t know it. Your straight A student will lie, do drugs, have sex and drink while at the same time kiss you before bed, smile in your face and appear to be a happy, healthy, behaved child. I was doing drugs and drinking for 6 years before anyone in my family realized it. They knew I smoked cigarettes that was it. Ask your children questions, be apart of their lives, do NOT go through their things unless it is absolutely necessary, and always listen with an open mind.

Anonymous December 14, 2009, 2:51 PM

worste ideas yet u need to get a life and stop worrying about other college kids. College kids are going to drink regardless, plus what is someone doing at a party not drinking just pretending?

Tammy April 18, 2010, 5:18 AM

I have two teens my girl is 19 and my boy will be 17; I like your ideas, and will share them with both my kids. My daughter is not a drinker hates the smell and taste…
However my son, like to have an occasional drink ( beer or wine cooler) I have a rule that it must be done in my home where I can supervise it. And there is no leaving the house after even one drink.
Teens are going to drink, and I would rather know that what they are drinking is not laced with something, and know they are safe…
I feel your right on here… My daughter is in college and I know she has had people try to pressure her to drink and she has been able to say no but has had many times not been invited back out again. This would allow her to avoid the pressures, and at the end of the night she can offer rides to those that are drunk.
Face it we live in a new world and the kids are going to do it… Same for smoking I would rather they get them from me than run the risk of getting one that may be laced.
As for drugs I draw the line I am 41 and have never touched any kind of drug and hope my kids will be able to say the same to their kids…

Eric January 20, 2011, 11:29 AM

Don’t forget to teach your children about blackouts too. Too many girls end up with std’s and hiv as a result of a wild night being taken advantage of by groups of men while they were so drunk they had blacked out and dont remember a thing. Wake up america, in a recent study, 40% of college students reach blackout stage after only 5 drinks in a 2hr period.

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