Young people and alcohol. Advice, tips and opinions needed

(60 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 24-Nov-09 23:03:34

Hi all

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls' bit) have approached us for some help. They are launching a campaign in January about young people and alcohol and want to include useful advice on their website aimed at parents - and this is where we come in. They want the advice to be from parents and based on real life experiences. They have a number of scenarios (see below) and want to know what parents would do/ what their advice would be in each of them. Plus they want to know if there are other situations parents have found themselves in where they would have valued advice/ or can offer advice based on that experience?

Here are scenarios: What do you do/say

•If your child comes home drunk
•If your child asks about alcohol at dinner etc
•If your child is going to a party and you think there might be alcohol there
•If your child is going out and asks to take alcohol with them
•If your child has friends round and they bring alcohol with them
If an older sibling gives your younger child alcohol
•If your child sees you drunk / asks about your drinking
•How to supervise your child if they choose to drink
Going to secondary school (as by age 13 most young people have tried alcohol)

We think it would also be interesting to hear how Mumsnetters talk to their children about alcohol (if at all). Do you allow them to have a taste now and again (and from what age?)
At what age do you think it's acceptable to drink ?
Is at least one episode of drunkeness inevitable/desirable so they "get it out of their system". How do you reconcile what you were like as a young person (whether you were a heavy drinker or a tee totaller) with the advice you're offering?
What "tricks" to look out for (you know the vodka in the water bottle thing) and what works best in terms of actually affecting behaviour ie is it scare tactics - you'll get raped/ mugged, it'll damage your health/make you less attractive, sanctions, or a laissez faire approach based on the idea that they will soon learn when they get sick/ a hangover?
What do you say about your own drinking?

It's a massive topic (and a pretty massive post) we know, but we didn't want to restrict it too much, so have deliberately left it quite open so we can help to gather the best bits of advice, anecdotes etc.

Thanks in advance for your help,

MNHQ

DanDruff Tue 24-Nov-09 23:04:37

i taught it for a term if they are interested - kids sick of exaggeration and being lied to - a bit liek sex ed and STD fear.
can cope wiht typing it all out here...

DanDruff Tue 24-Nov-09 23:05:12

adn from court natch - is ALWAYS an issue.
but they woudl have to phone me
am tired.

Wow. Massive subject.

DS1 is 17, will be 18 early next year.

DS2 is 14, will be 15 early next year.

DS1 has a reasonable social life; DS2 has none (horrible, recent fall out with friends)

DS1's social life is fairly limited - band practice, going into town (London) during the day at the weekends, occasional curries in Brick Lane.

I know that he drinks occasionally, (Indian restaurant in Brick Lane provides a bottle of red wine along with said curry), but he doesn't go to parties, and has told me that he things the whole 'drinking to get drunk' culture is stupid.

He has been seriously drunk once, and that was at our house, at a New Year's Eve party, about two years ago. He had asked if he and his friends could have a drink. I agreed; I hadn't, though, expected that they would then 'sneak' drinks all evening. The point at which I realised he was drunk was very late on in the evening. I took him upstairs and made him drink some water - which made him sick. He hated that, and he hated the hangover the next day. I know that this was an important lesson, as I saw a text he sent to a friend, in which he said he never wanted to feel like that again.

I am under no illusions that he will not do it again (how many times do we vow 'never again'?!), but I do think it was a useful lesson, even if it was not one that I would have planned.

DS2 has had the odd drink, but nothing more than this - at least to my knowledge.

abouteve Wed 25-Nov-09 11:53:27

DD 15 is allowed to have some alcohol at home under supervision as and when she asks which is approx once every two months. She has been allowed this since she was 13.

She has never been drunk. She was allowed more that usual at a party last Christmas but stopped when she started feeling the effects.

If alcohol is available at an occasional party she goes to with her friends, she will have no more than two drinks.

She has seen me very drunk once or twice and finds it embarrassing. She also questions my drinking if I go over the usual few glasses of wine at the weekend. I tell her I use it to relax.

By her age I had probably been very drunk to the point of collapsing several times. I point out the dangers of having too much alcohol. I tell her to look after her friends on a night out etc, as I think this is the main danger for young girls drinking, that they are carried away with no-one looking out for them.

Hope this is useful.

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 11:59:40

20yr old and twins aged 16.

I know from my own experiences and also from the experiences of my peers ( working class mostly) that when we were teenagers we were buying cider and getting drunk at a weekend.

I know from all the teenagers ( friends of my teens) that i know - that this is the norm.

I know that if i didn't foster an open relationship with my children, that they would get drunk in the wrong place at the wrong time, they would NOT phone me for fear of reprisals and they could end up seriously injured or dead.

i believe the age that teens get into this thing where i live ( and this may vary regionally) is 15.

I know that my teens were going to parties at this age, i knew that alcohol would be there - becuase they told me. They felt secure in doing so.

•If your child comes home drunk
If my child came home drunk aged 15 i would put him/her to bed with a carrier bag at the side of them so they don't puke on the carpet.

•If your child asks about alcohol at dinner etc
Think this is a middle class thing. We don't drink during the week. ergo the children do not know this as a lifestyle choice. They have had a glass on NYE natch.

•If your child is going to a party and you think there might be alcohol there.
as previously mentioned, i hope i have fostered a safe environment where my children can tell me these things honestly.

what i can do is rather than bury my head in the sand thinking MY precious children would NEVER do this kind of thing, that it is a stage that a lot of teens go through - so i have to manage this situation in the best possible way to ensure their safety.

if there is a parrty - i need to know where it is
who will be attending
i need to drop them off at the location
i need to pick them up from location.
i need then to be safe in the knowledge that they can ring me if they get into any trouble.

•If your child is going out and asks to take alcohol with them.
Not my alcohol - it's mine. So how are they going to buy it if i don't?

•If your child has friends round and they bring alcohol with them.
Not a scenario i have had. However i would ask friend if it's ok to ring parents to check that they know that they are drinking alcohol.

If an older sibling gives your younger child alcohol.
again not a scenario that i have had. but if older sibling were in my house - given the open upbringing, i assume they would ask me first anyway.

•If your child sees you drunk / asks about your drinking.

DH and i only go out to drink once a fortnight ( and not even that at the mo)
we go out, we get drunk. the kids have seen this and accepted this as a norm for us as parents ( whether that is a good or bad thing is another question)

•How to supervise your child if they choose to drink

as previously mentioned, i think my role is to 'manage' this as best i can to ensure their safety. communication is key, knowing whee they are who they are with telephone numbers and picking them up.dropping them off.

Going to secondary school (as by age 13 most young people have tried alcohol)

i can assure you that my teenagers were not geting shitfaced at 13! - a glass on NYE

whether nature or nurture - my kids did not rage against the parental machine until they were 14, by the time they are 15, i knew that it was pretty much inevitable so as a parent i do everything i can to minimise their risk.

I firmly believe that it is as easy to get hold of cannabis and i hold no truck with drugs. I dispise cannabis with my very being ( personal experience) and i mention this as alcohol and drugs are mixed.

The twins found out that a couple of days ago TWO aquaintences ( friends of friends who they ocasionally hung out with) BOTH died aged 16 becuase they OD on Ketomine.

This shocked them very much. DD cried. It brings home their own mortality. They think they are bullet proof - that only old people ( aged 30 and above!) die.

this gave me a great 'in' to tell them how much they mean to me, how precious they are and how i would be 'broken' if anything happened to them. Reinforcing what i have always said, i continued to tell them - that things like this are the reason i need to know where they are and what they are doing.

i do believe that authoritarianism is the way to go until aged 14 - when they start raging against you as the parent - instead of saying to yourself that your child would never.... I firmly believe its about accepting what is and managing that scenario

also - TOUGHER SANCTIONS MR BALLS. for those off licences that sell to minors. Yes there are sanctions in place - but do you know how far councils are willing to let shopkeepers take the piss until their licenses are revoked?

THIS is what needs addressing.

whilst one can get somone older to nip into Tesco - my own experiences tell me that most teenagers wait outside the local 'offy' and wait for someone to buy it for them.

whilst i have been asked - i always say no. However it can be intimidating.

Buying for minors by proxy should be looked at v. seriously. The laws and policies already in place should be acted upon quickly and promptly. Off licences should be held accountable. being small businesses, they should be frightened of losing their livleyhood. In reality - they clearly are not.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:03:34

My ds is 15 will be 16 next spring.He does drink a few beers at parties I myself have bought these on occasion.he has never been drunk as such and we have never had to go and get him etc or seen him unwell or hungover from it.ALL teenagers in his circle indulge and girls seem to be worse in terms of getting really drunk and drinking regularly.At home he wold never touch it much prefers juice.Tbh the reporting in the tabloids is nothing that I or he have experienced and I am much more concerned about drugs as there has been a fatality at a party local to s this weekend sad.I think it is inevitable they will have an episode its a bit of a given but keeping the lines of communication open and not getting too hysterical have worked for s so far.

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 12:04:22

please don't use this topic an yet ANOTHER was of using the govt agenda through schools. Let the schools teach.

if you want to change parenting culture please invest in universal parenting classes.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:06:35

The u is sticky on here so the s should be Us sorry xx

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 12:09:08

We have a very French approach to alcohol. The children (aged 9 and 5) see us drinking wine during a meal, they've accompanied us to pubs and no doubt they've seen us tipsy.

I don't want to paint alcohol as this big bad thing because that just makes it more desirable to them as they get older. Instead, we believe that if they see us drinking sensibly and in social situations, that's the attitude they'll learn.

Both of mine have asked about alcohol and I've told them both the good sides and the bad sides. They know that alcohol can trigger violence.

The biggest lesson they received on that - I think it stuck with dd more - was when our best friend lost the sight in his eye due to his friend being pissed up and aggressive.

We actually spent New Year with our best friend and this other friend we'll call D. He was great with the kids, seemed very relaxed, chilled and laid back. When dd found out that it was him who had caused the damage she was really shocked. That taught her more about the bad side of alcohol than I could have done.

I would never ever supply teens with alcohol. Once my kids are that age, if they are going to a party where alcohol is served, tbh I would probably have a word with the friend's parents to voice my unhappiness that teens are being encouraged to drink. I wouldn't stop my kids from going, but I would pick them up afterwards and ensure they are safe.

No teen would be allowed in my house with alcohol. My house - my rules.

I would like to teach my kids about drinking as part of a family. With a meal where everyone is chatting and the wine is part of that.

At Christmas dd will probably get a small glass of fizzy as a treat. Because I think that if you ban it altogether, again it makes it more desirable.

In France teenagers drink with their family. They don't tend to hang around on street corners getting pissed. When I taught in a French secondary they all seemed puzzled that British teenagers had this attitude to alcohol, they had no respect for our culture because of it. It's that attitude I want my kids to have. Difficult in this country I know.

Above all, I want to be firm but fair. I don't want to be a hypocrite.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 12:12:30

Actually I feel quite surprised and annoyed that so many parents are willing to supply their kids with alcohol to go to a party, or let them have a party that serves alcohol. Because that puts pressure on other kids to bring alcohol so they are part of the crowd.

I would have very strong words with any parent I knew who did this. It's not on at all.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:21:03

I have found our openness in letting ds take a beer or two from the fridge has been fine.I don't think any kids at these parties are not having at least a glass and tbh ds often has come back with a beer still in his bag.I don't want my ds hanging around older kids asking them to buy stuff from shops for him.It is only in the situation that you can decide whats best.My dp is a recovering alcoholic and we have had to be rational about it as many non drinkers demonise drink and end up with more trouble.My ds has never been to a party without parents back at midnight so it seems safe enough.I think you feel your way with your own child.All ds contemporaries seem to have a similar level of freedom in this area we know all the parents bar a couple and we have always socialised together and alcohol has been there.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:21:50

Rhubarb I didn't see that last post am assuming it is directed at me hmm

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 12:31:53

Well noddy, if your son came to my house with beer he wouldn't get in the door. And if you held a party and provided the teens with alcohol then I would certainly confront you about it.

Because I do think that liberal parents are inadvertently putting pressure on other teens to drink. After all, they don't want to be the only ones without a beer do they? And if you, a parent, say it's ok then surely it must be ok for them too?

So my post wasn't directly aimed at you no, or I would have addressed you, but at all parents who happily provide their kids with alcohol to go to parties.

JaynieB Wed 25-Nov-09 12:33:32

We drink wine with meals several times a week, my stepkids age 14 & 16 and DD aged 2 all eat together. We've talked about alcohol and sensible drinking but also acknowledge that occasional overindulgence is going to happen and to be honest - can also be a lot of fun! SS aged 16 is allowed the occasional drink at home, SD aged 14 doesn't like it and prefers a soft drink. I hope we are providing them with the knowledge to make their own choices in life. We can't be with them all the time, but we can largely control their access to alcohol at this age.
A chum of DH has v diff attitude - he will happily drop his underage kids off at a beach party with alcohol and think nothing of it. Shrugs his shoulders and thinks this is quite normal.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:39:51

My son was probably the last of his friends to drink tbh and has one beer sporadically.I prefer him to have one decent beer than some of them who swig anything from lemonade bottles(recently dodgy vodka in brighton being sold for a fiver i was terrified)I think there would be no teenagers at a party without a drink at 16.I wouldn't say I was liberal just realistic.Ds gets quizzed on his return and laughs at us but he has seen the effects of drink and drugs and is not unaware of the facts.You really can't police your kids 24/7 and not many parents would be able to find out exactly what goes on.Some of ds friends with strict parents are the worst!

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 12:46:54

Well I'm not sure that sending them out to parties with alcohol is the answer. You just said it, no-one aged 16 at a party will be without a drink. So there lies the pressure.

And if we condone that as parents, then we have no high ground if it gets out of hand.

tbh when I was a teen, drinking frightened me. I didn't go to parties because I was scared of my mother (terrified) but I was also frightened of what drink did to people and terrified of the pressure I'd be put under to drink.

I don't want my kids to experience that and I won't allow my home to be used for that, or encourage any other kid to use their home as a drinking den.

Yes these things go on, but it doesn't mean we have to shrug our shoulders and turn a blind eye. Drink is responsible for a lot of unwanted pregnancy stats amongst teenagers, it's responsible for regretful sexual experiences amongst teenagers, it's responsible for fights amongst teenagers and tragic deaths.

BertieBotts Wed 25-Nov-09 12:48:09

I haven't got teenagers and will leave that side to the experts grin but I am 21 so my own teenage drinking isn't such a distant memory. I won't answer the questions as such but will just offer what I think helped me not go off the rails.

Firstly, before I started drinking (maybe age 14/15? I was a late starter I think, but most of my friends were the same) my mum brought it up just as a casual, jokey sort of conversation - probably in relation to someone being "humourously" drunk on TV or something like that. She told me stories of when she had been drunk which were funny, so I felt like it was more of a sharing conversation rather than a lecture. But she did try to describe the feeling of being sick while drunk or how the room spins every time you close your eyes and you want to go to sleep but you can't because closing your eyes makes you feel sick.

Then as part of this conversation (when I was relaxed, we were chatting, I didn't feel "preached to") she gave me the best piece of advice - if you feel sick when you sip a drink, you have probably reached your limit and it's time to stop drinking. If someone offers to buy/get you a drink at this point say no thanks, and if they buy you one anyway then just don't drink it - if they choose to waste their money when you've said you don't want it, that's their problem.

The other thing that helped was knowing I could talk to her about anything and generally having a good, open relationship - I wasn't tempted to lie about things because I didn't need to.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 12:55:16

Rhubarb it is responsible for all those things but there are kids necking all sorts in the park then turning up at parties.I have talked to ds and friends and pressure doesn't seem to figure as highly as the media suggests.I thought that too and it seems some people are just more likely than others. They were all here for pizza before the last party and I had wine they had coke .If there are no beers in our fridge ds still goes out happily and it is not an issue.Dp collects him and often a couple will stay over here they never bring alcohol here i wouldn't allow it but at a birthday party i would rather have some level of control and ds doesn't seem bothered either way.We have had the 'phone us no matter what happens and no matter who'and ds knows that.I think the press coverage depicting 'terrible teens'is misleading.The sort of person who ends up out cold smashed in the street has usually got other things going on and is using alcohol to medicate but that is the exception

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 12:58:26

Well perhaps you should try living where I live and have lived in the past.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 13:00:33

Maybe but I am just talking about my experience.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 13:05:19

Yes but the trouble is that not every teen is as sensible as your son. There is peer pressure amongst teens to drink, there was when I was a teen and I don't see any changes to that. My teenage nieces have gone to parties and drank so much they've ended up in hospital. They say you'd be laughed at if you didn't drink. The parties were often held in other parents houses - it makes you wonder what the parents were thinking. Supplying a minor is against the law and I would not hesitate to shop someone if I knew they were doing this.
The media is one thing, the stats are another. We have a responsibility as parents - unless the government want to introduce safe drinking lessons in schools too.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 13:09:13

But you advocate the french way which is extremely like how we have socialised over the years inc ds and still the teens of these families want to drink cider with their mates.My ds knows intellectually that drinking sensibly with food is the 'middle class' message but still prefers his way i would think.As I said I would rather know what he has had than drink a potion concocted in someones bedroom.I don't claim to have all the answers but think I have prob given this more thought than most as dp is a recovering alcoholic and really do think it has worked for US.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 13:17:48

I don't doubt the way you have brought your ds is the best way for you. What I question is allowing him to take alcohol into underage parties and those parents who allow teens to bring alcohol into their own homes to drink with their friends. Because not every child has that fantastic upbringing and therefore should not be encouraged to drink when they are underage, or put under any pressure to drink themselves.

MIFLAW Wed 25-Nov-09 13:18:35

Rhubarb

In my experience alcoholism is a massive problem in France.

It just doesn't get diagnosed as often as here, precisely because drinking is such a part of "normal" life and because it leads less often to "anti-social" behaviour.

My parents also took your approach to alcohol - ie little and often, don't glamourise it or forbid it, etc. I ended up a raging alcoholic.

Not saying your (and their) approach caused this by any means - but it didn't prevent it either.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 13:23:46

They are not being encouraged though the parents are acknowledging what is already going on and tbh it is easier to 'police' at a aprty than in the park or on the beach!We are not talking plying teens with alcohol just being involved in what they are already doing

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 13:27:13

noddy, we'll have to agree to disagree.

MIFLAW someone else said that her experience which was much like yours, was the reason she didn't drink.

So who really knows what the factor is in becoming an alcoholic or not.

I don't doubt there are alcoholics in France, but binge-drinking is not common there at all. You don't get gangs of youths on the street corner with cans of Stella or fighting outside pubs and nightclubs. It just doesn't happen.

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 13:59:23

i think binge drinking in parks is a british cultural thing.

i think what i am saying is that - yes, i allow my twins to go to a party and have a drink, 'managing' the situation as best as i can, becuase the culture is such that they may go out and get a bottle of cider and end up passed out in a park. I manage the risk.

I give a little leeway and get a lot in return with regards to relationship with children and openness and honesty and most of all safety.

I think it is fundementally wrong to treat a 15 yr old as one would a 10 year old.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 14:02:33

That is what I have tried to do custy and it appears to have furthered the trust between us.I don't encourage him to drink and if I had nmy way he would be tucked up with cocoa but I do feel I have some clue what is going on Have seen girls out cold in the park and it is terrifying.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 14:13:52

But I think that by allowing them to go out to parties with alcohol, you are also saying it's ok for the other children to drink at those parties too, some of whom may be younger than your kids.

And it puts pressure on those teens who don't turn up with alcohol.

Because let's face it, at 15 they are not adults. They might think they are, but they aren't.

Repeat all of this back to me once my two become teens grin

abouteve Wed 25-Nov-09 14:15:40

Same here Noddy, I don't encourage it but don't have a blanket ban either. So far so good and it hasn't been my DD out cold in the park yet!

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 14:22:51

i am responsible for my teenagers. I will not universally parent random 13 year olds that might be at a party my daughter attends.

(which isn't likely)

the parents of that should parent their child. I have to draw a line somewhere.

abouteve Wed 25-Nov-09 14:26:59

Cannot imagine DD wanting to party with children that are any younger than 15 tbh. They opened up the local nightclub to under 18's just recently. They went to 2 then stopped because years 8,9 and 10's had cottoned on. grin

MIFLAW Wed 25-Nov-09 15:07:20

Rhubarb

completely agree that public binge drinking does not really happen in France.

But you do have to ask yourself who is buying all that red wine with the screw tops at a pound a litre ... Might not be teenage bingers, but it probably is alcoholics (well, it was when I bought it, anyway.)

I think my point is that it is desirable in and of itself to prevent teenage binge drinking, because that's how a lot of youngsters who otherwise DON'T have a drink problem get hurt.

But this in itself will not actually do much to prevent the same sort of proportion of teenagers growing up to be problem drinkers in adulthood. They're just more likely to do it at the bar or in their own home ...

DanDruff Wed 25-Nov-09 15:56:50

isnt the letting kids haev a bit young been shown to be a crap idea now - sure there was a report recently.

I also think parents TALK about being drunk in front of kids too much, which i see as distasteful.

as far as mine are concenred ( 11 9 and 6) i am never drunk or never notice

if i was that inebriated in front of them surely i would be " drink in charge of a child"

DanDruff Wed 25-Nov-09 15:57:10

WHY do we always end up talking abotu chuffin France on these threads

abouteve Wed 25-Nov-09 16:07:41

I mentioned that DD had seen me drunk but that is something that I'm really ashamed of and try hard not to repeat. Agree if parents are going to go out and get pissed they should arrange for young children to be cared for elsewhere.

Not sure what report said that a little bit young was a mistake. Depends how young I suppose. Would wait until they are curious about alcohol rather than giving them it at 5 al la french mode.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 16:15:55

Little children don't like the taste!And teenagers do not refer to their parents habits when they start experimenting.So you can be as french as you like but if hot boy/girl at party passes you the cider I am sure that at 15 your parents are the furthest thing from yor mind!Better to acknowledge that teenagers drink and make them aware that no matter what you are there for them.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 16:27:21

You sound familiar DanDruff.

I think I brought France up first on this thread. The reason being was because I remember the conversation with my teenage pupils on this very subject and all of them professed amazement that British teens go out and get slaughtered, they wanted to know why.

Sure drinking is a problem in France too, but it's a different problem. I guess heavy drinking is done in private due to lack of pubs. You don't see teens in those little bars, just old men mainly. And they do a lot more family things, so teens will be part of the huge family meal. They are very family orientated.

In this country the problem is alcohol being bought for teens so they can get smashed on it. I agree with custy that off-licences need their licences revoked if found to be serving under age kids. Parents need stiffer penalties for supplying. I'm not talking about being penalised for giving your kid the odd beer at home, but for going out and buying a crate of beer or litres of cider for your kids and their mates to party on.

Being pissed is seen as socially acceptable in this country, it is encouraged and people glamourise it. It's talked about on the TV and radio as though it's all great fun and such a hoot. I don't know any other European country that glamourises being pissed as much as this country.

It's practically our national pastime.

Only now society is turning more of a blind eye to younger drinkers. Parents now freely admit providing alcohol to their kids, that wouldn't have happened 30 or 40 years ago. It's all out in the open now, kids are encouraged to get pissed, even the police just take the booze off them and that's that. No-one does anything about it, we are getting far too lax and eventually our kids will just be a generation of boozy pissheads. The exceptions are in the minority, whereas it used to be the other way round.

DanDruff Wed 25-Nov-09 17:06:41

no tis not just you
its evry thread baout fashion too
" well in france"
piss offf! grin

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 25-Nov-09 18:21:16

Agree with Rhubarb.

Also 24 hour drinking in the UK was a crap idea. Our culture is wholly different from Europe and we will never have that attitude to alcohol. Everything shuts down in the afternoon and they eat late, teens go out early evening and are expected home for the evening meal not like here where it's a quick bite at 6 and out to the park for the night with a bottle.

And my one suggestion to Ed Balls or whoever is responsible is to stop allowing the manufacture of alcopops. They are the work of the devil frankly. Stop dressing booze up as pop and stop glamorising it.

I drank alot as a young person (and am still prone to overdoing it now) - I was given small amounts of alcohol at home from around 12. It didn't stop me going out and getting spectacularly drunk. I didn't give mine drink at home and that didn't stop (ds2 particularly) going out and getting spectacularly drunk either. The main difference is he can get legless a whole lot more cheaply than I could.

DanDruff Wed 25-Nov-09 19:12:52

agree with saggar - i think the goevrnment was TOLD about the policing implactions of 24 hrs

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 19:16:21

i agree with saggar too - alchopops =evil

DanDruff Wed 25-Nov-09 19:18:00

in fact unttil the govenemnt does LISTEN to people and SPEND MONEY on things to help other problems we are all doomed. Funny hwo they have no money for even a youth club in each town yet finds ££ for 2 weeks of Olympics

was chatting to a drugs pc about this today - everythign on the cheap - even prisons. just pisses you off

Tortington Wed 25-Nov-09 19:23:26

its more a smack in the face becuase its a labour govt imo, if it were conservatives ignoring these problems - one might expect it.

Rhubarb Wed 25-Nov-09 19:32:14

Too true Custy, too true sadly.

It's currently the labour government that is taking the job of parenting away from the parents, the labour government who okayed 24hr drinking and the labour government who fail to provide basic help where it is needed, lavishing money on the Olympics instead.

We have a crap reputation in Europe and beyond. Known only for the yobs and hooligans, violence and drink. England always was an ugly country in that respect and it's just getting uglier.

noddyholder Wed 25-Nov-09 19:42:01

24 hr drinking ridiculous I agree.They were thinking purely of revenue.This will never be like europe as we don't have the weather to sit around over a glass for hours in the evenings so everything is a bit rushed and covert.I have always told ds better to have a decent beer etc rather than those bloody alco pops although he says no one he knows likes them and I have seen photos of parties and they seem to have cider bottled beers and water!NO ALCOPOPS!Thank the lord

Mine are too young for it to be pertinent but I reckon my parents had the best idea in not making it special in any way and saying 'some people drink, some people don't. As long as you don't have too much it doesn't matter which you choose. We will always collect you if you make a mistake and drink too much. Never be afraid to call us if you need us to come and get you.'

I have been drunk only a few times in my life (very low alcohol tolerance two units and I'm unconscious).

Mind you when I recently spoke to my daughter's teenage DD, I got her to cut down on her (underage) drinking by pointing out that alcohol in many people can make their skin much worse (because of the dehydration etc.) grin

Perhaps with teenage boys, brewers droop could be mentioned?!

piscesmoon Wed 25-Nov-09 20:21:38

In our case we were rather helped by DS1s example. He didn't want alcohol and I was the one trying to persuade him! I was worried that he might suddenly find it at university where it seems to be very much the culture and I thought that it would be better to sample some at home first. He always refused it, he just didn't like the taste (from the few sips he had had). He has never felt the need to conform to others and he used to go out with friends to parties etc and have soft drinks. He did start to drink at university but he never has much and he will now have wine or beer at home. I haven't seen him drunk.
I think that this has been useful with the younger ones because subconsciously they take in the message that you don't have to follow the herd. DS2 is very different, he likes a drink, but he is sensible and as he is usually the driver he can't have any. If he does intend to drink he has his girlfriend driving or they have arranged taxis. He set out to get drunk on his 18th birthday but I don't think that he has had that much since-I suspect that he doesn't really like the feeling- but he wouldn't admit it to me.
DS3 doesn't drink much, when he does he gets sick pretty early on (much sooner than most people). We have told him that if he is going to drink to stick to beer and not to get onto spirits.
Alcopops are the very worst IMO because they make alcohol acceptable to those who don't like the taste, they disguise it with sugar and should be banned.
DS1 and 2 are very fit which helps and they need a high level of fitness for sport.
I am shocked by the number of parents who will supply alcohol for parties.
I don't think that I am a lot of help because it seems largely down to luck in our case.
I like a drink but I learnt, when at university, when to stop and I just don't like it past a certain stage. Too much gives DH a migraine, so although we have a drink quite often I suppose we give a moderation message as an example. We have always given them a taste, even when quite young (I mean sips here).
It depends on the make up of the DC. I have 2 nephews of a similar age and the eldest drinks very little and the younger drinks too much-but I think it also has a lot to do with the circle of friends.
The best message to give, while growing up, is that you don't have to follow others to be popular-it is OK to be different.
If they have come home drunk I don't show any sympathy-and tell them that they have brought it on themselves. I always checked their arrangements and stressed that they must phone if they need picking up-whatever the time. I have always stressed the safety aspects and know that they would look out for others-and,so far, friends have looked out for them.
It is naive to think that they won't drink, so it is best to make sure they are responsible.

abouteve Wed 25-Nov-09 20:50:31

It seems to me from this thread and from RL observation that most parents let teenagers try a bit of alcohol. Very few would provide crates of it (not mumsnetters anyway) and even less would forbid it in their presence until 18.

I have told DD that not all adults drink, that it's certainly not compulsory or a rite of passage. Needed to say this as most of her family are typical adults who do partake.

teens aged 17 (upper 6th young for year) 15 and 13

•If your child comes home drunk- not happened

•If your child asks about alcohol at dinner etc - not happenned

•If your child is going to a party and you think there might be alcohol there - ds 1 goes out and stays out quite often - since gcses we are fairly relaxed . Just say 'be sensible -you wont enjoy being ill' etc etc

•If your child is going out and asks to take alcohol with them - not happened ,i would let some lager go i suppose

•If your child has friends round and they bring alcohol with them - would not let them with 13 and 15
17 yr old i will let them but observe from time to time

If an older sibling gives your younger child alcohol
•If your child sees you drunk / asks about your drinking
- say 'dont judge me not your place' wink

•How to supervise your child if they choose to drink
Going to secondary school (as by age 13 most young
people have tried alcohol)

my dd is irresponsible and her friends drink - i will happily lecture her - not allow alcopops etc (no way) maybe half glass of fizz for 15 year old girl if we are having a party at home for example

13 year old boy no way - no drink at all

sorry if this is all badly written

JustGettingByMum Wed 25-Nov-09 22:54:21

DS1 - 16,(lower sixth), DS2 - 14, DD - 8

•If your child comes home drunk
Never happened

•If your child asks about alcohol at dinner etc
DS1 - every 6wks ish, allowed glass of wine or sml bottle lager,
DS2 - xmas/celebrations only (1 glass)

•If your child is going to a party and you think there might be alcohol there
Only happened once, he told me there would be alcohol. We discussed and decided we would prefer he took some small bottles of lager from home rather than drink stuff that was there. (given 4 small bottles so he could share with his friends).

•If your child is going out and asks to take alcohol with them
Only happened once - as above. Would not allow under other circs at this age.

•If your child has friends round and they bring alcohol with them
They would not be allowed in!

If an older sibling gives your younger child alcohol
Never happened - and dont think it would, DSs are quite protective of each other and younger sister.

•If your child sees you drunk / asks about your drinking
We drink at weekend, never been an issue - will occasionally ask for a sip if we have something different/new.

•How to supervise your child if they choose to drink
Hope we have a good enough relationship with our DCs that they would talk to us - tbh, just dont see it as an issue for us at this time.(Touches wood, and says several Hail Marys)grin

Going to secondary school (as by age 13 most young people have tried alcohol)
? what are you asking here?

foxinsocks Thu 26-Nov-09 12:56:41

Coming from a family where there are and have been a lot of alcoholics, I have been very honest with my children.

I only drink a little bit, dh drinks more. Obviously they have seen the alcoholics in my family too.

I have told them the damage alcohol does - they can see it with their own eyes. My poor mother is only in her late 50s but her skin is so wrecked from drinking, she looks about 80.

I have given them the message about drinking in moderation and they know that some people get drunk for fun. I don't know how they will turn out when they are older but I have at least armed them with the information I hope they will need. In the back of my mind and I'm sure in the back of theirs will be the knowledge that some people believe there is a genetic component to alcoholism and at least the fact that it very often seems to run in families (whether genetic or not).

I think they need adverts, like they did with smoking - you remember the ones where they squeezed out the crap from people's arteries and showed you what it looked like?

If you could see the colour of my mother's skin, the state of her liver, what she looks like when she's pissed herself and is lying in a heap....I think that sort of message would be good to give to everyone. I think we are very very shortsighted about the damage that excessive alcohol consumption can do - and even that what some people consider 'normal' drinking is excessive.

abra1d Thu 26-Nov-09 13:41:44

My children have never seen my or my husband drunk. We would regard this as a loss of control and dignity.

THey may have seen us merry--but there's a big difference.

My two have seen their aunt slowly kill themselves through drink. We would never let them worry about us.

BlingLoving Thu 26-Nov-09 14:02:07

It's quite interesting how things change. I can't add to this debate from my own experience as a parent. But I'm fascinated by the number of people who'v explained to their children about the dangers or alcohol. Is this a new thing?

As children we were allowed sips and as we got older that changed to actual glasses of wine or beer. By the time we were 16 or 17 (SA was still pretty conservative back then), our parents knew there'd probably be drinking when we were out and we were told to be careful, but I don't remember ever getting told specifically about the dangers of alcohol? Ditto, at university my dad used to let me take wine that he didn't want to have with university friends and they must have known that there were times we were drinking a LOT but again, we didn't get told about the intrinsic danger of alcohol. We did regularly get reminded not to drink and drive and to be careful when driving late at night as even if we weren't drunk, other drivers might be.

I don't think it ever occrred to my parents to warn us about the dangers of alcoholism or anything similar?

piscesmoon Thu 26-Nov-09 17:02:56

I think in my case BlingLoving they simply didn't need to because we didn't have enough money! I live in an affluent area and I am amazed by the amount of money some DCs have to play with.

Milliways Thu 26-Nov-09 18:16:55

•If your child comes home drunk: Not happened but she does come home at 3am!

•If your child asks about alcohol at dinner etc, we would let them, but they never want it.

•If your child is going to a party and you think there might be alcohol there - Talk to them about being sensible. By all means try a drink but preferably at home first.

•If your child is going out and asks to take alcohol with them - allowed from age 18.

•If your child has friends round and they bring alcohol with them: We confiscated it! We explained that the other parents couldn't know that alcohol would be available and as they were all 15/16 I was not allowing it for other peoples kids in my house.

If an older sibling gives your younger child alcohol - not happened, they know we would let them try what they want with our supervision.

•If your child sees you drunk / asks about your drinking - we share a bottle of wine most Friday & Saturday nights. The kids pour it for us! We don't get drunk in front of them!

•How to supervise your child if they choose to drink: Our rule has always been that whenever they want to try a taste of what we have they are welcome. If they want us to buy alcopops etc or anything they are interested in we will get it for them to taste and see the effect it has. Apart from very weak Sangria with loads of fruit DD liked nothing until aged 18, when she discovered some cocktails! She does drink a bit now (afaik) is always sensible.

Going to secondary school (as by age 13 most young people have tried alcohol) - Not a problem. Mine have never been offered it at school and the other scenarios are covered above.

nooka Fri 27-Nov-09 05:27:26

My ds (10) had a whole term of the terrors of drink and drugs. We thought it was a bit OTT and told him that many people (his parents included) drank and took drugs in moderation and for enjoyment without any problems, but that for some people of course it was a very bad thing. I don't see the point in telling children things they will find out not to be really true, because I think that really undermines the key message which is to be careful.

My children are only 9 and 10, so not yet out there boozing away, but I'm not about to kid myself that at some point they won't.

The only questions relevant to us are have they asked about alcohol at dinner, yes, and they both get to take a sip of our wine if they like (but not G&T type drinks). ds rather fancies himself as a connoisseur, whilst dd (9) is not so keen.

They have seen us drunk the once, when we had a meal together that turned out to be rather more boozy than anticipated, and they were really interested in how silly we got, asked lots of questions about how it felt (and the hang over), and occasionally bring it up with some degree of disapproval.

As a teen my parents were fairly similar, sips at home and that's about it, but of course we still went to parties and got drunk on whatever was going, nicked the half empty bottles of liqueur from the back of the cupboard, got served in pubs whenever we could get away with it etc etc. I don't think my parents had a clue as to what I got up to at times (and wasn't much of a hell raiser at all). dh has some fairly hair raising stories about getting very drunk at gigs and making his way home across London completely out of it, which I expect will be told to the children when they are older. His parents didn't seem to think that was a problem, perhaps because he was with a fairly reliable bunch of friends.

I'd be more worried if the children have very wild or uncaring friends than them drinking per sey. But then ask me in 5/6 years time and I might feel very differently.

Pixel Mon 30-Nov-09 00:20:42

I was brought up being allowed to have a taste of alcohol on special occasions and by the time I was a teenager that meant I would have a glass of babycham or something at Christmas. I can honestly say I never wanted to go out and get drunk and I rarely drink now so I think my parents were quite sensible. I meant to do the same with dd (nearly 14) but she isn't interested and has never even tasted wine.
Mind you, I don't think alcohol holds any mystery for her as she was brought up in a pub until she was 9 and we've always spoken openly about it. She knows people go out to have fun and drinking in a pub is part of that, but she also knows that some people go too far and make fools of themselves or develop a drink problem. She has never seen me or her dad drunk so I hope we have set her a good example of enjoying a drink but being responsible about it.

halia Sun 06-Dec-09 21:38:39

as a youth worker and a mum I'm interested in the comments about 'not enough money' round here morrisons has just started a promo of 4 cans of carling for £1.

Now you might not get falling over drunk on 4 cans but its more than I think most parents of under 16 yr olds would be comfortable with their kids having.

Letting kids have it young - well like most things its nowhere near as simple as it sounds.
Scenario one: involved parents, good relationship with their teenage children, lots of support and discussion about sex, drugs, alcohol etc. Parents allow a shandy/ sip of wine/ tot of whisky on new years eve occasionally at 14+.
Kids see adults they trust modelling responsible behaviuor around alcohol.
(yes of course they will go otu ad model irresposbile behaviuor too but if you have seen people sharing a bottle of wine between friends and having a chat/laugh. you know alcohol isn't all about falling over.)

Scenario two: Parents neglectful, possible alcohol problems already in family situation, Paretns and older family memebers talk about 'getting legless' etc in front of kids, kids given booze frequently with no watch kept on how much and when.
Only role model kids have is that alcohol is somethign you use to blot out bad things, can make you violent, is got on the cheap ......

Scenario three: Parents want to do the right thing, think they ought to be invovled so when 14yr old asks for wine with the family meal they say yes, but no discussion takes place. Kid gets mixed messages about drinking and goes on to drink secretly.

they are simplified examples - but for me they help me to think about how I discuss alcohol with kids.

We need to talk to them about it - but without preaching or banging on and on and on. Generally 12yr olds+ DO know as much (if not more) than adults.
(neither lot know how many units in a bottle of wine, but both know alcohol can make you very very ill)

We need to give them safe space to talk to us, without jumping in with judgements or questions.

We need to make it clear that there is law regarding alcohol and that as responsible adults we don't condone breaking the law.
(personally I may think some laws are daft, but I still dont' advise or support breaking those laws)

in a sweeping generalisation or three;
most teenagers have alcohol before they turn 18
most people have been drunk at least once in their life (I dont' mean passing out drunk btw, just that next stage on from merry)
most teenagers are used to beign told they arent' old enough yet (even if they disagree) but they really resent being told that sex/alcohol/drugs/ are 'bad' because hello mum and dad - YOU DO IT!

But its not easy, on one side you have us lot trying to 'be there' for our kids, give them the right message and support them. On the other - alcopops and 24hr licensing, the influence of media, the perception of 'going out on the piss'.

Having said that, I've had to deal with idiots plastered up to their eyeballs on too many occasions, and I can say hand on heart its never been anyone under 16 (and rarely under 18) who's been outside a ngithclub / pub/ bar at 11pm throwing up in the gutter or pawing some poor lass.

Maybe we should spend a bit more time thinking about the messages that go out to the 18-25 yr olds? Or surely all we have is a juggernaut of anticipation from puberty onwards of the first night they can go out and get legless legally.

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