Party with the parents or family? This is a tough area to deal with, and you may have a lot of questions about it. Parents are supposed to set a good example for their children. Life is hard enough for kids without the mixed messages that their parents give them.
What if your parents gave you alcohol and you have no clue what to do? Maybe you are starting to worry about your family’s drinking habits. Or you’re afraid they could get into trouble with the law, but you feel pressure because it might make you feel closer to people. You may be scared about how your parents act when they drink, and you’re uncomfortable being around that. If you know friends who drink with their parents, you probably want to know if it’s okay or safe. All these questions are totally valid, and it’s okay to ask them.
How drinking can affect you
Alcohol use can have serious consequences in the short and long term on you. Drinking has a way of ruining your health and putting you in danger. The risks are higher when you drink at an earlier age.
Here are some facts you may not know about drinking and how it affects brain development and function:
- Drinking can lead to brain damage and memory loss, including poor school performance.
- Alcohol is a neurotoxin that interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and functions. 
- Over time, drinking too much alcohol can cause brain cells to die and a person’s brain tissue to shrink. 
- Increased risk of accidents, injury, and death while drunk is a clear and present danger when it comes to alcohol abuse. 
With so many warning signs about drinking, you’ve got to be asking yourself if it’s worth the serious risks. How important is alcohol in your life and do you need it to have a good time? Drinking is not the best thing to do at a young age. If you are worried about your own drinking, it may be a good idea to take an addiction test.
What’s your parent’s relationship with drinking?
Life comes at people hard, and some parents and families use alcohol to cope. In general, it’s important to think about your parents’ relationships with alcohol, even though that’s difficult. But you can start by asking yourself:
- Are my parents drinking to cope with the stress of their job, home, or daily life?
- Do my parents know the difference between drinking in moderation and addiction?
- Are there others in my family besides my parents who have alcohol or substance use disorders?
- How do I feel when my parents drink around me?
Their drinking is not a reflection on you or your relationship with them. Remember, parents aren’t perfect. They make mistakes, and so do their parents. They may have grown up with bad information that makes excuses for drinking. And for them, drinking is a survival skill that helps them deal with their emotions.
But it is possible to replace drinking with healthier coping skills. If your parents don’t have a healthy relationship with alcohol, then it’s probably not a good idea to drink with them. If no one around you has good coping skills, then it can be very hard to create your own.
Parents wanting to party with their kids is risky. Having this kind of early exposure to casual drinking makes it more likely that you can have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. You might also start to see how drinking is problematic for your family and that alcohol misuse or addiction might run in your family. It can make home life unpredictable when mood changes or poor decisions can be destabilizing and very tough on your life.
When thinking about drinking with your parents, it might be good to reflect on: “Are they trying to be my friend or my parent? Or “How is drinking affecting me?
It’s okay to say no
Refuse to inherit dysfunction. Learn new ways of living instead of repeating what you lived through.
The bottom line is that you need to be your own person, break free from your parents, and have your own life. When it comes right down to it, choosing not to drink is your choice. There’s nothing wrong with saying no or not participating.
Going to family or individual counseling can help you identify dysfunctional family patterns. It will also give you a set of tools to create boundaries and allow you to rise out of a bad situation or bad habits. Organizations such as Al-Anon will help you find volunteer-led group therapy for friends and family of alcoholics. Take a look at the article “Is my family dysfunctional?” It points you to signs you should look for, how it affects you, and how to deal with family dysfunction. Having self-awareness and tackling the issue head-on will lead you to positive solutions and healthier relationship dynamics. You can break the cycle.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2023, April). Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain. Alcohol’s Effects on Health Research-based information on drinking and its impact. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/alcohol-and-adolescent-brain
- Reiser, D. (2023, April 14). Binge drinking and your body. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/does-drinking-alcohol-kill-brain-cells
- Morsel, S. (2023, August 7). Brain Damage from Alcohol and Drugs: Are the Effects Reversible? American Addiction Centers. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/brain-damage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, November 14). Binge Drinking. Alcohol and Public Health. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm