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To ask your experiences of alcohol as a child/teen

49 replies

abeanbaked · 19/03/2021 17:04

Long story short but my father is an alcoholic, my mum is not alcohol dependent but does drink and could possibly be accused of 'taking it too far' when she does. In fact, most of my immediate family take it too far. For example parties cannot end and everyone goes home happy, there's always people way too pissed, arguing etc.

I would say I have a good relationship with alcohol, I don't drink in the house often and either does DP but we do enjoy going out for a drink etc.

As a child/teen I was always told that alcohol was completely forbidden, wasn't allowed it and it was for adults only. So I was rebellious and drank in the street, got out of my face in fields, that sort of thing. My DP on the other hand, his family are all fine with alcohol (no tears or huge bust ups) and he was allowed (at 14/15) to have some beers in the house with friends, that sort of thing. He didn't go out and drink straight glens vodka in the street anyway. My MIL says now that in hindsight she shouldn't have allowed him to drink as he was too young but I think she showed him how to have a normal relationship with alcohol, the complete opposite to myself.

Thoughts? Do you allow your teens to drink?

OP posts:

abeanbaked · 19/03/2021 17:05

To give it some context, we are expecting and my biggest fear is the teenage phase and I worry my child may be too much like myself Wink

OP posts:

PandemicPalava · 19/03/2021 17:09

We were allowed a tiny glass of wine with dinner from quite a young age. My littlest sister and me did a bit of street drinking but mostly when we were old enough. My middle sister however, went completely off the rails and was a raging drunk from about 13. I honestly think it depends on the child


Northernsoullover · 19/03/2021 17:12

No I don't. I was permitted to drink and I certainly had unhealthy drinking habits as an adult. There will be a million mumsnetters telling you that forbidding it makes it more appealing when there is now evidence to suggest that teen drinkers are more likely to end up as problem drinkers.
If anyone trots out the line that the French introduce their children to alcohol at an early age its worth remembering that France had crisis levels of problem drinking. So much so that they banned alcohol producers from advertising/sponsoring events.


ViolentFairy · 19/03/2021 17:13

I took all the drugs and drank loads, if it makes you feel any better I have two teenagers who are lovely and for now have no interest in alcohol or drugs, neither do their friends. I think having a few beers in the house is normal if and when they want to.
But... I was allowed to do that so I don't think there is a right answer here!


minipie · 19/03/2021 17:13

All my school friends had a pretty similar upbringing regarding alcohol. Some of us went crazy drinking in our teens as you describe and others rejected that. I think it’s more down to the child’s personality tbh, are they someone who wants to rebel, or is influenced by peer pressure, or are they someone with an older head on their shoulders who is ok with not fitting in?


CustardLovingPooPooHead · 19/03/2021 17:13

My family was fairly relaxed about alcohol and we still got pissed in fields as teens, OP! I wonder whether it has more to do with who your kids hang out with, tbh. My kids aren't old enough for booze yet. I have no idea how I'm going to tackle that particular challenge! Sorry, not much use, am I!


crystalcherry87 · 19/03/2021 17:16

I was allowed to have small bits of alcohol at home. When I had sleepovers with my best friend at 15 we used to drimk brandy and we would get drunk and giggly but not completely obliterated. I always knew when to stop. I think I have a healthy relationship with alcohol as an adult. About once a week I will drink a bottle of wine but I can easily go without. My eldest is 12 and on special occasions he's been allowed to have a bottle or 2 of low alcohol cider and has never been drunk.


RelaisBlu · 19/03/2021 17:23

My parents were very liberal about alcohol and I was offered it from a very young age (early teens). As an adult I can take it or leave it and drink far less than most people I know.
I have always felt there is a correlation between these 2 things - nothing excites like prohibition, as the saying goes, so because it never had the allure of something desired but denied, it had no special mystery for me.
I've just realised I've not had an alcoholic drink yet this year!


Jumpers268 · 19/03/2021 17:43

My mum was very strict. Alcohol was forbidden. Even when I turned 16. I used to just go out to the park at night and drink, in excess, with my friends and just lie to my mum. Still remember climbing out the 2nd floor window. My dad was/is (I have no contact) an alcoholic so I completely get her fear. As a PP said, I'd have likely still done the same if she had been more relaxed about it but I'd have been more inclined to go home rather than stay at a friend's house.


waitingpatientlyforspring · 19/03/2021 17:44

I was same as your DH and so was my DH. We were allowed to drink at home from about 14. I never drank on the streets or put myself in danger through being drunk with friends and I don't think my DH did either. It wasn't really a big deal.

We are reasonably heavy drinkers at home compared to some but no alcoholics and very rarely get very drunk. Our children see us drink (in fact both are getting good at making me a g&t) but both say they can't remember seeing us drunk.

We allow them small amounts of alcohol (they are 12 and 13), they will have bucks fizz at Christmas, maybe half a glass of Prosecco or a sip of our wine. Nothing much but I hope it means alcohol won't have an allure as being special.


MonkeyNotOrgangrinder · 19/03/2021 17:48

Even though you were forbidden alcohol, the message you got from your parents about how to use it, was to drink as much as possible and get off your face.
Your dp was allowed to drink but didn't was given a more restrained example of how to use it.
You probably would both been the same even of he wasn't allowed to drink as a teenager and you were


merryhouse · 19/03/2021 17:49

I grew up with a father who'd been in the Temperance Movement, partly as a reaction to his dad's own alcoholism. (GD died before I was born.) My mother's family probably drank a bit more than was entirely healthy but were mostly sensible and cheerful about it. (My grandmother's father would get all his post-pubescent daughters to drink a third of a pint of Guinness every day.)

I don't remember being offered alcohol under 10. When the baby grabbed a wine glass at a wedding and tried to drink out of it the response was laughter and a very definite no.

When I was about 12 my mother occasionally bought a 2-litre bottle of cider to share - I was the fourth of six, so it was only a small glassful. During my teens I would be offered a small glass of Harvey's or ginger wine before Sunday lunch. My mother occasionally made fruit wine and we would sometimes have this at Christmas etc. There was always a bottle of whisky in the pantry but I very rarely saw it used (suspect it was primarily for granny).

I went to pubs and drank underage when on orchestra residential courses (fairly certain that would be impossible nowadays).

H grew up with a father who regularly made fruit wine, and would be offered a glass most Sundays of his later teens.

Both of us have been known to overindulge but are able to abstain if we want to - for the last year or so it's been a pint of beer on Friday and another on Saturday, then a sherry or martini on Sunday followed once a month or so by a bottle of wine. For several months we didn't even have any gin or whisky in the house, which was a bit weird.

We've always allowed our boys to have a taste if they ask. S1 (now 21) has never been keen - his sixth-form friends kept trying to find something he liked but only the toffee vodka hit the spot! S2 (very nearly 18) is more into it. He had several cocktails at a party a few years ago and got mildly tiddly on I think lager at a sixth-form party (pre-lockdown). Interestingly, it was S2 rather than S1 who expressed discomfort at our level of regular drinking (we weren't paralytic but would often be obviously over the driving limit).

I think the important part is the attitude. Don't fall into the habit of expressing "need" for a drink; don't automatically have a drink because you've got home, or because someone's popped round, or because you're watching tv, or even because it's the holidays; and don't get pissed if it makes you argumentative, maudlin or violent. Neither of our families did that.


merryhouse · 19/03/2021 17:54

It might be relevant that both boys have always had various extra-curricular things going on so don't tend to randomly Go Out in the evening anyway...


Mintjulia · 19/03/2021 18:05

I worked in a pub from 13, washing up and watched a selection of neighbours make complete tits of themselves over the years.

My boss, the landlord, was happy for me to try any drink I wanted as long as he knew. By the time I was 16 I knew what I liked (very limited), and I was very clear that getting drunk wasn't cool.

If my DS, currently 12, wants to try a drink he can, from about 14 onwards. So far he hasn't asked. His df is an alcoholic and I'm very alert to any undue influence.


AyyMacarena · 19/03/2021 18:11

My dad is a recovering alcoholic but was just a heavy drinker when I was at home. His dad is a heavy drinker. My mums side drink with a nice meal but not much more.

I would always have a thimble full with a posh meal and always detest it. I was never told I couldn't drink, just that it should always be in moderation. I really think this is the best way. Anyone I know that has been forbidden to drink would nearly die in a field trying to be cool. When my time came, my mum and her friends helped me find a drink I could enjoy and it was just something that was done. Not something to hide or do to excess. Perfect!


TomHardyAndMe · 19/03/2021 18:13

My DD has been making beer - including tasting - with her dad since before she was a year old (soon as she could stand she was in there).

I rarely drink, but will have a glass of fizz with a meal at celebratory occasions. She’ll have a sip or her own glass (around 1/4 of a glass). Her dad drinks craft beer more often and she’ll often have a sip and give a critique (she’s 10 now). Neither DH nor I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, so by letting DD be part of that we hope she follows suit.


VienneseWhirligig · 19/03/2021 18:13

My parents were very lax when it came to alcohol - from a fairly young age I was allowed wine or beer with lemonade with a special occasion meal, and as I got older the lemonade was dropped. I would go to my friend's house at Christmas from about 12 and her dad would give us port and lemonade.

I was allowed out to pubs and parties with alcohol from about 14. I have a healthy relationship with it, can take it or leave it and have never been a binge drinker. DH was a bit reluctant to follow this model with DS (DSS hadn't been allowed to drink before about 16 because DH wasn't really keen) but we did try it (nothing forbidden, everything in moderation) and now DS is an adult and will have a beer now and then but like me can take or leave it.


Itstheprinciple · 19/03/2021 18:18

We allowed DD14 to have some fruit flavoured cider on NYE. I'm do glad we did as it did not react well with her and she ended up in a terrible state just off a couple of drinks. I felt really bad at the time that we'd allowed it but in hindsight I'm glad I did so we could understand the effect it had and it gave DD a shock how quickly she reacted so she will be much more careful in future. She has had half a glass of prosecco on special occasions and has had little sips of our wine or whatever to taste it but I like quite bitter and dry drinks rather than sweet things so I don't think my drinks appeal to her teenage tastes.

It's a similar approach to both mine and DH's upbringing.


tabernacles · 19/03/2021 19:20

I'm Jewish and grew up having a mouthful of wine every Friday night (and a bit more at Passover). I don't recall my parents drinking at other times.

I tried alcohol a couple of times (in moderation) at university to see what all the fuss was about, but was not enlightened by the experience. I still don't drink.

My partners' parents were both functional alcoholics, as was he until he stopped drinking completely not long after we got together. His sister has never drunk at all.

So neither of us drink, but we do have non-alcoholic beer (for my partner, who usually has one bottle a week) and wine (for cooking) in the house.

My daughter (10) has shown no interest in alcohol so far, though I would allow her to taste the non-alcoholic stuff (I'm sure she'd think it was disgusting) if she wanted.


CorianderBee · 19/03/2021 19:25

My parents didn't drink until I was a teen and they split up really. Dad had the occasional pint. Then my mum started drinking wine most nights, but not loads she was still pretty normal. I was allowed the occasional WKD at parties from about 15. I got shitfaced from 16-23 tbh. Still now (I'm 25) I can drink far too much if I don't control it. I can and do limit myself for this reason.

My sister, father and I all react to booze similarly (I'm pretty sure it's genetic) - if we don't hold ourselves back we overdrink and can become nasty/irritable/forget everything.

So, I switch to non-alcoholic beer after my allotted number.


CorianderBee · 19/03/2021 19:27

The first time I got drunk drunk I was 14 with my mate. We went through three bottles of wine together and both ended up violently vomiting all over her house. Wasn't good, but sadly didn't put me off.


welshladywhois40 · 19/03/2021 19:35

To me it more than alcohol - it's the whole how you treat a teenager.

I had very strict parents with little freedom. I told them so many lies about where I was and what I was doing. And yes I was drinking from 15 and drinking way too much in my 20s. Ie not knowing when to stop.

So my sons will have boundaries but I want to be able to discuss those with them and alcohol will be included. I would rather know what they are doing so I can keep them safe


Umbivalent · 19/03/2021 19:40

My family was liberal and relaxed with alcohol. We visited France a lot when I was a child and I would have watered-down wine, like the French children.

Didn't stop me becoming an alcoholic as an adult.

As PP's have said, it's more about the person than the upbringing, imo.

(I've stopped drinking now Smile )


Waxonwaxoff0 · 19/03/2021 19:47

Don't have teens yet but my family are all quite relaxed about drinking and most of us had the odd drink from about age 13. I only got drunk twice before I turned 18.

I wouldn't say I have a terrible relationship with alcohol but I definitely have a tendency to binge drink occasionally depending on my mood. I never drink in the week but always on a Friday and Saturday night, tonight I've only had 3 single vodkas with diet coke but on another night I could drink twice that plus a bottle of prosecco.


TomorrowIsAnotherDae · 19/03/2021 19:54

I distinctly remember swigging from a bottle of my mums Sherry at a very young age (around 6 or 7 I think) I also know that my mum drank and used drugs during her pregnancies. I also strongly suspect that my mum laced our bottles with alcohol so that we would sleep when we were infants (my mum died when I was young so can’t ask her, not that she would have given an honest answer). I’ve had problems with alcohol and have been tee-total since 2018.

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