My older boys are now 20, 20 and 17. While I don’t want to encourage them to become heavy drinkers, alcohol is part of most young people and indeed many adults’ social lives. They want to try it out.
They need to experiment with it, see what they like the taste of, see what their individual tolerance levels are. But in a safe environment.
The boys have been going to a local pub quiz on a Tuesday evening. It’s a week night and they have school and college the next day, so they only drink soft drinks or water. For one of the boys, sugar causes him to become hyper excitable and giggly and act in a very immature way. We have agreed with him that it’s best if he only has one sugary drink when he is out. Some alcoholic drinks have the same effect on him we have discovered. One prosecco for him is one prosecco too many! Sugar again perhaps? Yeast has the same effect on him so that rules out beer too.
I know we are supposed to ‘celebrate’ autism and not try to inhibit any of our young people’s behaviours but he desperately wants friends and wants to be accepted. Appearing very drunk after a fizzy drink or one prosecco is not seen as cool.
So we have been ‘practising’ to find which drinks don’t react so badly with him. A glass of wine with dinner seems to be fine. Half a bottle with dinner, which he tried on holiday last year, had us all laughing as he couldn’t stop himself smiling and laughing. In other words, he is a ‘cheap date’. He and we now know this so he can keep a check on how much he drinks.
His twin is a runner and an athlete. While his tolerance for alchohol appears fine, he has never drunk enough to feel drunk. His body is his temple and he doesn’t want to pollute it with alcohol. On holiday, he does like a few drinks and will also join the other runners in having a beer after a race well run. I have no worries about him.
Our 17 yr old has a high tolerance level for alcohol. He and his mates all want to experiment with having a few drinks at a party or at the weekends. I am happy for them to do that in our house. Far safer that they are in our house than for them to feel the need to go out in the dark to find somewhere to illegally drink. My teenage years were spent drinking cider in the park with some very ill effects! I don’t want my vulnerable boys having to do that.
I am also relieved to know that none of them react badly to alcohol. They smile more, laugh and are silly. None of them get aggressive in any way. That is a hugely reassuring fact to know. It’s another reason for letting them practise while with us in a safe environment. We can witness any negative reactions.
Everyone parents their children differently. My way is not necessarily the best way or the only way but for our family, it works. I think that if something is witheld, it will become even more desired. We have a stash of chocolate. My boys can help themselves. None of them are overweight, they don’t crave chocolate because they don’t see it as forbidden fruit. I want them to feel the same way about alcohol. It doesn’t need to be abused. It’s there if they want it and we don’t make a big deal about it.
It probably helps that I only have a drink maybe once a week. I drink water with dinner, so all the boys do too. I am known for my love of cocktails though, but as a treat , not as a regular activity. On holiday, we take the boys out for a pre dinner cocktail which they love. It’s as much about the ritual and being treated as adults and equals as it is about the alcohol itself.