Teaching Your Teen How to Drink

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Catchy title ay? 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.

Let’s be real here: if your kid wants to drink, they will. No matter how strict you are, how early their curfew is, 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 to 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 sleepy…no fun at all. I also got sick once off of Sake and…lets 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 “ 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 try to 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 3rd 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 similar…you 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 a 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.

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15 Responses to “Teaching Your Teen How to Drink”

  1. Vicki
    May 13, 2008 at 5:06 am #

    Please don’t read this as harsh. My tone is not that–it’s worried. Please save this and reread it when you’re 35 and have kids. I think you’ll be amazed at how the lenient views you have as a young adult change (mine did). Would you consider writing a column about teaching kids to stand up for what they believe in instead of being a lier who tries to fit in?

    I see the benefits of your post, because teens desperately want to fit in. But there’s something inherently wrong about it. It should be a last resort measure if anything. A parent should instead teach their children pride in having integrity. And that means sticking to what you believe in, not lieing to fit in. If your kids don’t believe in drinking or don’t want to drink then teach your kids to have the guts to be strong about their convictions. And this will definitely have to start when they’re young. This kind of advice can’t just start coming from parents when their children are tweens.

    Teach kids to be strong! Not just semi-compromisers that have to lie to be cool.

    Like I said, my tone isn’t a harsh one. I do like a lot of the advice that you give. This just struck me as off. And I didn’t read your pot post. If it was anything like this I probably would have responded in like manner.


  2. Jean
    May 13, 2008 at 5:22 am #


    I have two girls – one is an independent leader who would have zero problem telling people she doesn’t drink and would never give in to peer pressure, but my other one is a fence sitter and a people pleaser. Vicki’s point is well taken, but you have to know your kids and this post will be printed and held for my 9 year old to read when she is 14 :-) I often tell her to use me, the evil mom, as an excuse when she is being pressured to do something that doesn’t jibe with our family values.

  3. Vanessa
    May 13, 2008 at 6:14 am #

    Maybe I didn’t make it clear that I think this is wrong. Horrible, I hated doing this and I hate that people still have to resort to this. And it is definitely a last resort, absolutely last, I post more often about teaching kids self-esteem than anything because that is the most important.

    And I think I do have very high self esteem, at any of these parties I could have–and did often just say no thanks, but sometimes it was easier just to hold a cup and lose my drink.

    My pot post is extremely anti-drug and I say teens should avoid it and smokers if they do not want to smoke…nothing like this.

    So it is a last resort, and very wrong, but necessary for some teens and even adults who do not like to drink (I still do many of these things when I go back for college parties)


  4. Vicki
    May 13, 2008 at 7:59 am #

    Thanks for the clarification. In thinking about this further I’ve come to the conclusion that parents must begin dialog with their children at young ages–not about drinking per se–but about integrity, honesty and being a good influence. I think it’s far better to teach our kids from when they are young what is right, what is wrong and how to be a good influence around their friends. That way, when they get to this age they will not feel pressured at all to even hold a drink. Saying no and feeling confident about that decision will be a great influence on others around them. And they won’t have to compromise their integrity just to feel liked or a part of the crowd.
    Once again, thanks for addressing my issues!

  5. heather
    May 13, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    This may be good advice on how to not drink if you are feeling pressured – but not coming from a parent.

    Imagine yourself in your dining room teaching your kids how to fake taking shots. Then imagine yourself trying to get them to take you seriously when you are attempting to punish them for doing something dumb -whether it’s drinking related or not.

    That’s because you’ve crossed the line from parent to friend. Your basically saying, “I don’t want you to do this, but if you’re going to ignore me anyway here’s some tips.”

    You are undermining your own authority as a parent, so how can you then complain when your kids don’t listen?

    Some kids are smarter than others, some are better at sports. Not everyone can be the most valuable player. Parents who try to shield kids from every disappointment and lesson aren’t doing them any favors.

  6. Vanessa
    May 13, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    I could see how this coming from parents blurs the line. Although some parents say their kids should not drink, many parents actually do drink with their kids…wine at dinner, beer at a sports game. And if parents are doing that, they should also be teaching them how to avoid the alcohol when they do not want to drink. I wish more parents were like you and were teaching their kids to always say no when underage, but I do not think that is always the case


  7. Katy
    May 13, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Your post made me laugh! Some pretty good tricks there, esp #8 could be fun.

    If there is so much pressure at a party, and it’s so uncomfortable to say no, I say to teach your kids to leave the party. These are not the kind of “friends” you need nor want to hang around. They can have friends who drink, but they are not true friends if they don’t take a “no thanks” as an answer.

  8. Adena
    May 16, 2008 at 8:58 am #

    I think this is a refreshingly honest view of what REALLY goes on at parties. Face it, our kids ARE going to end up at parties SOME DAY (teen years, college years, etc.) and will have to deal with this. I think Vanessa’s pointers make a lot of sense. I’m still trying to figure this all out, as my son is still elementary school age, but I know that the blanket “just say no” probably won’t work even if he does have good self esteem. So ideas like these help.

  9. Realistic Mother
    June 22, 2008 at 5:46 am #

    Thanks for this great post. As the parent of a teen, I totally see the need for this sort of advice.

    I raised my son with a very strong message about alcohol and drug use. His dad was an alcoholic and a drug user who cleaned his life up, and my son knew all about AA and what addictions do to people.

    And then adolescence hit and he started to party. I was worried, felt like a failure, and wanted to protect him by putting him in a box made of rules. Eventually, I realized that things had changed- he was no longer a little boy, and I no longer had control of what he ate, what movies he watched outside the home, who he talked to, or what he chose to do.

    I realized I could either foster an HONEST RELATIONSHIP in which he felt he could tell me what was going on in his life, or I could foster a DISHONEST RELATIONSHIP, where I pretended to still control him and he pretended he wasn’t lying to me about everything he possibly could.

    Which choice was more likely to create an atmosphere in which he would still be open to listening to my advice and honoring my requests?

    So, I admire what you write- it is brave and intelligent. It is taking the head out of the sand and dealing with reality, rather than what once wishes were true (ie. Tell your kids to never do drugs and drink and they won’t!).

    Kids need that social time, and as much as we wish they’d only have well-behaved friends who never party, they might choose otherwise. Learning how to fool the fools so they can fit in socially but not get wasted is a very valuable lesson.

  10. Vanessa
    June 22, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    Hi realistic mother,

    thank you! I really appreciate your comments and the reinforcement


  11. Tashana
    January 28, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    teen should not drinking alcohol because its bad affect your life kill u ok teen im a teen but i learn i want lie about yea i did drink because i want to have friends more people i want to be like every one else i didnt want to be me and drinking want get u out on life go to school learn do something butter with your life now its 2010 im 17 yr old and i go to Muskegon High School im in the 11th grade and i doing butter now dont drink.

  12. Sherry Ottmann
    March 22, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Hi. I was particularly impressed with the last part of number 5. Excellent deterrent to date rape…and the answer to being accepted into the Greek system. When I saw the title on this, I thought it was about teaching teens how to drink alcohol in hopes that they would not develop major problems with alcoholism…but this is something entirely different. This is more like How to teach your teen how to “fake” drinking, and how to act drunk to be accepted. I was a product of the first philosophy. My parents were professionals (surgeon and teacher) are really thought that it was a great idea,hoping that their daughters would not be taken advantage of. Did not faze my older sister, but I became an alcoholic. The experience did not make me BECOME an alcoholic…just started the process earlier.

    My life is not lost. I sobered up 39 years ago. Yes, I am old enough to be your grandmother…and I am one…four times! In retrospect, my advice would be to teach your teens other ways of coping with life’s challenges (and that includes setting a strong example), and a variety of problem solving skills(and I do NOT mean math problems).


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