Drinking - FamilyEducation
04/23/2007 at 12:52 PM

It seems like all of the kids drink and I don't know how to handle it. My son, Eli, says he's not drinking and I want to believe him, but I think I am playing the fool. I don't want to harass him. Maybe I should follow him one night and see if I can catch him. My friends think I'm stupid to believe him - they say that all the kids are drinking and why do i think he's so special that he's not? Good question. I don' think he'd lie to me.... what should I do?

I don't have a teenager, I admit. But aren't they going to do what they want to do? Almost no matter what you say? So you just have to try to keep them safe. How about telling him that if he gets in a sticky situation, he can call you for a ride, no questions asked. And tell him to NEVER get in the car with anyone who has been drinking. Don't follow him--if you get caught, he'll never trust you again!

Well, this all came to a head over the weekend when one of Eli's friends was pulled over and caught with open booze bottles in her car. She claimed they weren't hers, but the cop arrested her and a friend. I am soooooooooo glad I didn't do anything stupid to Eli, because his friends' arrests made much more of an impact than anything I could've done. Thanks for the good advice, elkesmom! Elisar

Hello Elisar,


My son is 15 in his first year of High School.   He has shared with me that he  has seen students smoking weed and talking about drinking at is school. 


My son knows what my values are.  He knows that smoking and drinking is not appropriate for him.   He chooses friends that share our values.


Encourage your son to choose friends who have the same values as your family and to stay away from those who may have the potnetial of getting him in trouble.


“It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” - The Golden Girls


You are so right, Nanny416! My kids' friends are so influential for them. And, if they pick the right ones, then they will make better decisions. UGH! It's so worrisome having a teenager.


Everyone's situation is different.  You don't want to follow your son and lose his trust if you don't have reason to think he would lie to you. 

One thing that has helped me is that my son is involved in extracurricular activities.  Practice keeps him busy mornings and after school and sometimes evenings. He really doesn't have time to get into trouble.  Not only is he involved, but I volunteer my time too.  This helps me to get to know who his friends are and their parents.

Another option might be to invite a few of his friends over.  Get to know them and their parents, encourage them to do things that will keep them out of trouble.

Hope this helps!


Boy do I agree that keeping kids busy helps to keep them out of trouble.  The busier they are the less time they have to think up and act on negative impulses.


I also agree that it is so important to know the kids and their parents.  The more communication between parents the less the kids will be able to get away with---my daughter knows that I will call anyone's parents because I really do think if more people watched out for all the kids then less kids would fall through the cracks.






I agree that our children's peer group is very influential.  It was surprising for me to read recently that, believe it or not, PARENTS are the number one influence on their children. I guess we should be proud of that.  Open and honest communication is key.  I say trust them until you have a reason not to.  I thought the following articles contained some good information that can guide us in our parenting.   Enjoy!


Hi! I have a 16 year old son and he's picked the wrong set of friends. Can I still wean him away from his existing group? He's the eldest that's why I didn't know any better and I did not issue enough warnings prior to his entry to teen years. Can i still reverse the situation? Thanks!

Hey xanwij,


It is so hard to control friends at this age.  Does he have any activities that he is involved in at school?  Can you get him interested in any activities or prehaps volunteer work, like Habitat for Humanity.  I always feel like the more involved you can keep them the less time there is for bad influences and for them to get into trouble.  And they might make new, different friends that way.


Anyone else have any ideas?






At times during my teenage years I was the good kid in a group of friends that made some bad choices. I feel like that was a valuable experience and I am grateful that my parents just stepped back and trusted me. I was able to influence them for good, and I felt like I was making my own decisions. It was important that I had a good relationship with my parents though. They talked with me about everything and made sure I felt comfortable talking to them about things. 


Believe in your son until you know positivly other wise. My son never got into the drinking/drugs etc. either he just turned 23 and is going to marrird in sept. and is still a virgin.


As a high school teacher who teaches art, where the kids can talk while they work, I hear everything.  I would say that most parents are very naive about what teens are doing. I strongly believe you should NOT assume they are telling the truth. I don't mean you should accuse them of anything and act irrational, I mean keep your ears and eyes open. Also, NEVER, EVER, assume that since lots of teens do it, it makes it OK. Never, ever allow them to drink at home under age, because you are saying it is OK.

There are genes very prevalent in our family for alcoholism. I have tried to educate my sons as much as possible about alcohol abuse just in case they've inherited the genes (its missed me, but I think I can be a carrier, not sure). The more information, the better. Everytime I hear something, or read something about it I share it with them. They may act like they aren't listening, roll their eyes, etc, but some of it is sinking in. They know their grandpa was a severe alcoholic at the age of 16 until the age of 62 when he finally got help, but still died indigent. 

I have one very good idea for you, but your son might not agree to it, but its worth a try. We live on a curve and 3 drunk teens had a very bad accident on our property and at least one wears the experience on his face with a scar that goes diagonally from the top of his head to his chin. That experience had a deep impact on my two boys and the neighbor boys. (The irony is that parents provided the alcohol at the party they had left. So, don't even trust parents!!) When my son turned 16 and I told him he had to pick a way to volunteer (I showed him the list of volunteer opportunities from school) he chose becoming an EMT. It took 6 hours a week for 5 months for the training, but he did very well. He volunteered on a weekly crew for several years (until college got too hard). I am quite certain, thanks to what he has had to witness over and over again, he will never abuse drugs or alcohol, ride with anyone driving drunk, alow his friends to drive drunk, or drive without a seatbelt, etc. But, just in case, I still discuss the topic with him. Now, he knows more about it than I do, thanks to his training. For example, he knows what each breathalyzer test number indicates physically, not just legally. 

Also, in our house, no one's room is off limits. Both boys know that I have free reign of the whole house. I will look in their drawers, etc. If they whine about I just say, "You're a teenager, I'm your parent. That's the way it is." It would be very hard to hide something in the house. Have frank discussions, but don't harass. Also, if you find out he has, take him to an adolescent counselor immediately, even if they only go once or twice. They might just know the best way to tell them straight.

If you yourself have not read a lot or gone to several workshops on teens and alcohol you should.  Recent clinical research about brain development is now suggesting that the drinking age should be raised to 24 because of the different effect alcohol has on the developing brain compared to the adult brain, which for many doesn't fully develop until the age of 24.  Another workshop I went to showed the statistics that when an adolescent is driving drunk they drive fast (frontal lobe not fully developed enough to stop risk taking), when adults drink and drive, they drive slow (alcohol exaggerates the paranoia of the fully-developed frontal lobe of the adult brain). So, which is more deadly? Adolescent drinking and driving. Here is one article about alcohol and the adolescent brain: http://www.duke.edu/~amwhite/Adolescence/.

Be tough and be smart. Eli's future depends on your actions now.

Not all teens are drinking, smoking weed and acting like hooligans. If you trust your son, trust him. Your friends may be utterly convinced that everyone between the ages of 13 and 19 is getting drunk and drugged at every opportunity, but their mistrustful accusations are no reason for you to suspect the worst of your teen. I'm 17 and have never been drunk. Why? Because I don't have any particular desire to. My mother has never stopped me drinking in moderation at home, so I know drinking isn't some big cool thing only for adults, and don't think that I need to get drunk to be cool and grown up. Some of my friends drink, some don't. Almost all are honest with their parents about it. Teens are not all lying little brats who drink like fish.


You sound like a very wise young person. You will probably have a very enjoyable life because you are not self-destructive and not naive. I do have a lot of students like you and I plan on keeping touch with them to see what wonderful things they accomplish. Enjoy your life and always have faith in yourself!



I really wouldn't worry too much about what your friends think, I've been there too, friends saying I was crazy if I believed that my teens didn't drink.

I know they don't because we have a very good relationship and when they come home we always sit together and chat about where they've been, what's been going on etc. and if they had been drinking they would try and avoid me as their friends do, sneak in the door and up the stairs shouting good night.


I have always told my teens that if they wanted to have a drink to be sensible and we have discussed the best options of what to drink and how to be safe with their drink so nobody can spike it etc. We also have a special text they send if they want to be collected early from a place they don't feel comfortable in, this has only happened twice when parties have been too crazy.


So until your son gives you a reason not to trust him, go with your instinct and believe what he says, just don't go sneaking around after him to please your friends.


There are plenty of good kids in the world so why shouldn't one of them be yours?


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