Kids, Alcohol, and Parental Hypocrisy.

The first time I can remember drinking alcohol, I was about 14. I was at a house party for a friend’s birthday and I vividly remember my Mum (being a right-on social worker) had sent me with a 6-pack of alcohol free beer so that I could join in with the cool kids, without compomising my values, or embarrassing myself.

It worked brilliantly.

Well, it went brilliantly if  by “brilliantly” you mean that I chose to hide the Kaliber in the front garden and join in with the cool kids by downing half a bottle of Bacardi, then ended the evening projectile vomiting up my friend’s kitchen wall. I subsequently spent 2 days in bed, feigning food poisoning and never, ever drank Bacardi again.

During my ‘troubled’ teenage years, I listened to a lot of Peter Gabriel and purloined a lot of hard liquor from my parents’ cupboards. And I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to my long-suffering Mum for topping up her vodka bottle until it was probably about 2% proof. Then I went off to university and made a lot of poor judgement calls, based on far too many bottles of something called ‘Two Dogs’ which I seem to remember was the colour of drain cleaner. Maybe it was drain cleaner.

Basically, then, I have zero moral high ground as a parent.

So, what do I tell Flea? 

I really want Flea to know that, more often than not, alcohol makes you sad, not happy.

I want her to understand that ‘beer goggles’ are a REAL thing, and alcohol + boys = all kinds of bad decisions

I want her to know that there are far better ways to relax at the end of a stressful day than with gin, or wine. There’s Twitter, for starters.

Above all, I want her to know that just one, single incident of drinking to excess could lead to her being sexually assaulted, injured or even killed. And it’s not worth it.


But how do I avoid being a hypocrite, when I’ve taken those same risks and made those poor choices myself? Is alcohol just a rite of passage for young people?

How do we start a conversation with young people about alcohol, and when should we be having those conversations – what do you think?


I feel really passionately about this issue, which is why I’m so pleased to be working with Drinkaware on its Mumtank initiative, which provides parents with common sense advice and facts about young people and drinking. Drinkaware has created a range of materials to support parents, and advise them on how to talk to kids about alcohol, so young people have the knowledge and confidence to make safe choices about alcohol.

Tonight, we’ll be on Twitter between 8pm and 9pm with GP Dr Sarah Jarvis and Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh of Devon and Cornwall Police, talking about kids and alcohol. We will also be joined by parent bloggers Chris Mosler and Rosie Scribble, who are part of the Mumtank initiative. 

If you’d like to share your views, or ask a question of one of our experts, then make sure you follow the #kidsandalcohol hashtag, and follow @tots100 and @drinkaware on Twitter.



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 28th June 2012 / 6:20 pm

    I had a similar Bacardi incident and also have not drunk it since.

    On a serious note, I think I will tell my kids about the times when drinking led to bad decisions and how much I regret some of them, and I will hope that they have better judgement and more respect foe effects of alcohol than I did.
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  2. Dawn
    28th June 2012 / 6:45 pm

    I also had an incident in my early 20s with a whole bottle of sparkling rose wine and throwing up in a flower bed as I left the do. Can’t do fizzy wine now. Was lucky I had a teetotal friend who was driving us home a someone trustworthy to check I was safely in bed.

    I never drank to excess like that again too much pain and humiliation involved.

    It is a worry as your teenage children do think they know better than you and it will never happen to them…just what I said as a teenager.

    It’s hard, you almost want them to do it once and be ill, as long as you are there to get them home safe and look after them, but sometimes that opportunity may not arise and that is the worry. I believe it is is best to be open about alcohol and try to model moderating behaviour. Otherwise it will go underground and you won’t know they are in trouble until it could be too late.

    Easier said than done though!

  3. 28th June 2012 / 8:10 pm

    I see this as both a mum and a teacher of 14-18 yr olds – so I hear the stories. I went to the funeral of a promising, ambitious, intelligent boy that once drunk drowned in a river. As a parent I am determined that my children will understand the risks. But i too like a drink and alcohol needs to be respected by everyone for what it is.
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  4. Frugal Queen
    28th June 2012 / 9:13 pm

    I have, as you know, a drug and alcohol abusing daughter and I can promise you before God that we did everything we could to educate our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and letting them understand the consequence of both. I have a sister in law who is a forensic pathologist who educated all of our children, in the fact, that both kill. We didn’t drink when the kids were at home and had busy happy lively children. Nonetheless, the prevalence of both in society is a huge problem and the middle class circles our children moved in were full to the brim with the copious opportunity to use both. As a society, we should turn our back on both and realise that there are parents who furnish the children with money, or drink or drugs and are far too relaxed and there are retailers who will sell to our children. Until society wants to stay sober and for that to be the norm, our children will see inebriation as acceptable and will copy adults around them. Sorry for the rant, but it’s very close to my heart.

  5. Vic
    2nd July 2012 / 10:18 am

    You should probably make an example of yourself. You know, ‘mummy did this and got very sick so you probably shouldn’t try it either.’

  6. DC
    2nd September 2017 / 2:35 pm

    Coming from an entirely different culture I can say that the best “protection” is (like with may other things) simply learning how to do it (in this case how to drink properly aka without ending up vomiting!) It’s really not all that hard and alcohol doesn’t have to be the mess it seems to be sometimes. Drink only the good stuff, know your limits (yeah, that comes with experience; shock! horror!), EAT with the drinks, don’t mix stuffs and so on. There really is no “bad” thing out there – there are only things done either wrongly or rightly. So no, I won’t hope that my kids will “not drink” – I will teach them instead HOW to drink IF they want to do it. Not so that they always drink or drink a lot, no – simply so that they can actually make a choice for real.