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advice for teenager off to college and who is embarrased because he doesn't drink

(31 Posts)
gingeroots Mon 05-Sep-11 21:02:31

I know this might sound strange but I'd appreciate any words of wisdom .

DS has never had a thriving social life ( not because he doesn't want one ) and tends to be a bit awkward socially .
He doesn't drink but doesn't seem to have the confidence to accept this or be happy about it .
He seems to think it's a social handicap and an impediment to socialising .

I'm not sure how he's going to handle this at college - he clearly doesn't feel it's ok to just tell people he doesn't like the taste .
He seems anxious to find an alcoholic drink that he finds palatable and I'm worried that with that motive and "help" from others he might end up paralytic on some dreadful vodka and fruit based cocktail ( or similar )that someone's suggested .
Can't think that being away from home , no "drinking" experience and trying to prove himself is not going to be ideal .

If you think I'm bonkers - please tell me nicely ....

gingeroots Mon 05-Sep-11 21:03:38

Sorry - what I wanted to ask was - what can I say to him ,how advise him ?

hermioneweasley Mon 05-Sep-11 21:07:54

I hardly ever drink, and don't remember feeling any pressure to when I went to uni. Had to explain it to everyone the first few times and then everyone got used to the fact. Only complete twats would pressure you to drink if you don't want to. Teach him that a firm 'no thanks' is fine. If he's confident in his decision then that will radiate to others.

TheDetective Mon 05-Sep-11 21:09:16

I think you shouldn't worry too much. As a now 26 year old non drinker who has been through school, college and university, and work with a bunch of alcoholics (I jest!) I can honestly say no one has ever made me feel awkward, or like I should drink. If anything its quite the opposite, most people are very respectful of this. I get a lot of positive reactions from people.

Don't worry, he will be ok. And I tell people its because I just haven't acquired the taste yet, and no one bats an eyelid!

NotQuiteSoDesperate Mon 05-Sep-11 21:12:56

My DS2 is just about to go back for his 2nd year at Uni. He doesn't drink very much and manages to have a good social life. His friends just accept that he doesn't want to get off his face.

Tell your son that there are more students like him than he thinks!

CMOTdibbler Mon 05-Sep-11 21:17:43

I had loads of friends who didn't drink for whatever reason when I was at uni, and it was never a problem/issue. The great thing about going to uni is that there is a much wider variety of people to socialise with, so things which may have been an issue at school disappear

gingeroots Mon 05-Sep-11 21:20:12

Thank you all for prompt replies - it really helps to hear this .
Not sure if I can explain it properly ,it's not just that he doesn't drink ,it's because he wants to .
I have discussed this with him - why he wants to and he just says it's because most people do . Guess it's that old ( understandable ) thing about fitting in .
Will stress it's not uncommon .
And what's that quote about "being yourself rather than a poor copy of someone else " ?

ThePluralOfAnecdoteIsNotData Mon 05-Sep-11 21:22:49

My DH doesn't drink, at university some 'friends' would make it their mission to 'get him drunk'. All you need to tell your son is that people like that are not friends. He will be fine.

The only thing that drove me mad was when I tried to ask DH out
Me: Do you want to go for a drink sometime?
DH: No thanks, I don't drink.
Me: Do you fancy a coffee then?
DH: I don't drink coffee either.

I persevered and eventually got him round to my halls room to watch a film and eat chips!

TheSkiingGardener Mon 05-Sep-11 21:23:55

If you try and conform, everyone will like you except yourself.

We had mates at uni who didn't drink. They were very useful when it came to being able to set up laser light shows and remember what we did j. The morning. Drinking doesn't make you popular, being relaxed makes you popular IME.

AnaisB Mon 05-Sep-11 21:26:09

I was about to write "you could suggest....." but at that age I'd of done the opposite of anything my mum had suggested so instead "you could hope......" that he'll join a society that fits with one of his interests. Given that you mention he can be socially awkward I imagine it would make it easier to form a social group if he did this - and provide an easy topic of conversation!

gingeroots Mon 05-Sep-11 21:32:57

smile at *thepluralof" got any daughters you could send our way ? DS does neither tea ,coffee or carbonated drinks ! (squash , juice ,and water )
skiinggardener and Anais - good motto and good advice ,thanks .

Marne Mon 05-Sep-11 21:37:44

I'm sure he wont be the only one that doesn't drink, i had a few friends at college who would never touch drink due to verious reasons. I think people will respect him for admiting that he doesn't drink, tell him to stay stong and feel pushed into doing what others are doing. I don't drink very often, i use the ecsuse that i'm drining (have ofter offered to be the taxi) grin.

ThePluralOfAnecdoteIsNotData Mon 05-Sep-11 21:41:38

My girls might be a bit young for your son Ginger at 2 1/2 and 8 months!

goinggetstough Tue 06-Sep-11 07:22:26

My DD has just managed to get through her first year drinking very little. It does seem to be the "in thing to do." She found a definite No did work but it was sometimes hard. It is worse at the beginning of the year when the student loans arrive, but it did taper off. My DS drinks even less and goes off next year. The one thing that worried me was that as my DCs don't drink much that they would be targets - spiked drinks etc. So do remind them not to leave their drinks unattended.
Good luck to your DS.

ToothbrushThief Tue 06-Sep-11 07:28:22

My DC is at uni and doesn't drink. She can't afford to for one thing and that's a good reason. As long as he doesn't stand in the corner disapproving of those that do he will be fine smile

cory Tue 06-Sep-11 07:36:26

I would remind him that one pleasant thing that happens as you move up in the education/work world is that the people around you get more mature and there's more different people around, so far less pressure to be exactly like everybody else. Young teenagers are desperate to be like everybody else; sub-adults far less so.

talkingnonsense Tue 06-Sep-11 07:38:40

If he wants to look like he fits in, just get a beer and drink it slowly. In a bottle so easy not to leave if you worry about spiking. He may not like the taste, but it won't kill him.

gingeroots Tue 06-Sep-11 08:08:20

Thanks guys ,all good useful advice .

CaptainNancy Tue 06-Sep-11 08:26:58

DH went right through university not drinking- he hated ghe taste too. He got into malt whisky around age 28 or so, but isn't a huge drinker, and he is a supertaster, so it was probably as his tastebuds changed as he got oolder.

If he really wants to have a less vile drink, what about somwething like vodka, lime and soda? Much less sweet than most, and it sounds as though he doesn't like sweet tastes so much.

He'll be fine though- there are so many people at college, someone will be on the same wavelength as bim somewhere. Also don't forget many young people don't drink for religious reasons so he could well find there is a sizeable minority in any group that aren't drinking.

exoticfruits Tue 06-Sep-11 08:27:40

He really won't be alone. You get the idea from the media that every student drinks to excess and that fresher's week is one long drunken orgy. In truth there are lots of students like your DS.
Mine didn't drink before he went. He didn't like the taste. I worried-tried to get him to drink as I thought it better to get used to it at home than away.He still wouldn't. He drinks a little now, he will have wine with a meal and he drinks beer, but never much. I know many others the same.
I would follow talkingnonsense's advice. No one will notice whether he is actually drinking it.

Grumpla Tue 06-Sep-11 08:36:41

I knew a few people who drank very little or not at all at uni. The important thing for him is not to refuse "going for a drink", just to have a non-alcoholic drink when he gets there! Explain that he still wants to go out clubbing / to the pub etc just not that into booze.

He can practise some tactics for the odd arsehole who might take the piss e.g. "it's alright, I don't need seven pints as a personality substitute, I already have a personality that works just fine..." but honestly apart from a bit of gentle teasing I don't think there will be that much of an issue!

If he wants some likeminded friends, there are sure to be people on campus who don't drink for religious reasons, mature students who are less likely to be caught up in fresher madness etc. But I think by far the best thing to do would be stick to his guns - there is absolutely no reason he should drink if he doesn't want to!

quirrelquarrel Tue 06-Sep-11 14:09:27

If he's not v. cool, who's going to propose him a drink? He won't have to say no. I don't know if college is so different from sixth form, but it's not like there are fun flasks stuck in every school bag to be whipped out every time the teacher turns round for a second...

If he gets invited to the kind of things that are about drinking, people won't have thought he's boring or whatever. So he can say no. Win-win.

quirrelquarrel Tue 06-Sep-11 14:09:55

Oh- sorry, didn't know college meant uni!

AMumInScotland Tue 06-Sep-11 14:20:14

Many people, even teenagers, have great social lives without alcohol - it really isn't the total focus of most people's lives. There will be some people he sees, specially in Freshers Week, who are very drunk and very loud. But if he takes a minute to look round, he'll see plenty of people who are not drinking.

He can find friends who aren't that bothered about alcohol, and/or he can find friends who drink but don't feel any need to pressurise him into drinking. They are out there, he just needs the self-confidence to realise it.

My advice to him would be to join lots of clubs and societies, and go along to lots of events - then pick ones to continue with where alcohol didn't seem to be the centre of attention.

I think his problem is maybe that he thinks all the drinkers are having fun, and to have fun he needs to copy them. But its not true - its just that the drinkers tend to be the ones shouting loudly in the streets, so they are more noticeable than the people who are having fun without getting blootered.

On a final note, if he really doesn't want to be teetotal, then there are plenty of things he could drink - personally, I like vodka & coke, which doesn't have much of a taste beyond the coke itself - but much more important is to reliase that drunkenness isn't what hes missing in life.

exoticfruits Tue 06-Sep-11 14:30:35

It is the noisy ones who make the most impression, when actually there are lots of those who don't drink.

It is like MN there are threads where 'everyone I know takes drugs, or has taken drugs'-it is easy for me to sit here and think 'am I the only person who has never taken drugs and do I just not see other people?'
But I don't think that I am -I just don't and didn't move in circles where everyone did it, although I was aware that a few people did and it wouldn't have been too difficult to find them.

I would agree with AMumInScotland-join societies with a common interest that doesn't centre on drink. e.g. if you are going to spend your spare time rock climbing you need a clear head.

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