For every young person in America there is a rite of passage that can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes frightening. We’re not talking about learning to drive, losing your virginity, or being forced to watch Geraldo Rivera report live from Bangladesh. We’re referring to drinking with your parents for the first time.
Joining mom and dad for a stiff drink after dinner or a beer at poolside is rife with potential pitfalls for the unprepared. We want to help take the pressure off both young people and their parents so they don’t fall victim. To that end, we offer some tips that we hope you find helpful.
Specific Tips for Young People
If you’re old enough to legally drink you’re old enough to make your own decisions, even if your mommy still treats you like you’re 16. Once you decide on your adult beverage of choice, don’t let your parents talk you out of it because it’s: a) too strong, b) too weak, or c) not what they’re drinking. If a cherry-flavored wine cooler or a no-name light beer from somewhere in east Texas is your preference, go for it.
By the same token, don’t try to influence your parents’ drinking choices either. It doesn’t matter whether or not you understand the whole Mai Tai thing. Both the New York Times and the Food Network say the Mai Tai is legit, so we just have to accept that.
Lastly, the first time you drink with your parents you might be surprised to see how much they can slam down in any given evening. They may even end up a little tipsy before the night is through. Get over it. And while you’re at it, keep in mind they probably still do the “dirty deed” from time to time as well.
Specific Tips for Parents
Mom and Dad, now it’s your turn. The most important tip for you to remember is that little Johnny is not so little anymore. If he’s in his early to mid-20s, chances are he already had his first drink somewhere back in high school. If he’s been to college, well, you already know the score.
As long as you’re opening your eyes to the fact that your son or daughter is probably already an experienced drinker, you might as well just go with it. Be sure to treat him or her just like you would any of your other adult friends, with one exception: there are certain “mom and dad” things you don’t want Junior to know. Wink, wink.
In treating him like your other friends, be sure to let him make his own decisions. You only need to step in if your child is thinking of doing something dumb―like drinking and driving. Then feel free to take his or her keys.
Another good tip for parents is to not specifically bring up the topic of booze unless someone else starts the conversation. You don’t want to make your children uncomfortable or suspicious that you’re prying for information about their drinking habits. Talk about the weather, sports, or what Beyoncé wore to the Grammys; anything but booze.
The Morning After
Whether you’re the young person or the parents, remember that morning will come. What could be a potentially uncomfortable situation for everyone involved will eventually pass, along with all of the alcohol in your system. In other words, the sun will come up tomorrow.
Even if drinking with your children/parents for the first time is a shock to your system, it is a part of growing up that almost every family goes through. It’s not that big a deal unless someone in your party actually thinks a daiquiri goes well with pasta. At that point an intervention may be necessary.
Parents may do well to share hangover secrets with their kids if it’s apparent that Junior had a little bit too much the night before. One of our favorites happens to be the greasy breakfast remedy. There’s no proof that if actually works, but can you ever go wrong with two eggs, toast, and enough bacon to feed a small South American country?
Other people swear by the method of treating hangover with more booze. As the thinking goes, putting more alcohol in your system to help you ease out of a hangover is like slowly weaning yourself from any other potentially toxic substance. Unfortunately, doctors say taking another drink in the morning is one of the worst things you can do.
Perhaps the best thing you can do for the morning after is to simply not drink so much. That may not help your kids, but you don’t have to have a hangover too. You can use the wisdom you’ve accumulated over many years of binge drinking to know when enough is enough.
In the end, the rite of passage involving drinking with your parents for the first time is not as bad as it may seem. It can actually be quite enjoyable if everyone just relaxes and concentrates on appreciating one another’s company. After all, isn’t that the best way to drink anyway?