Belfast Telegraph

I want to prevent son from drinking

Northern Ireland's number one agony aunt Fiona Hurley answers your problems

Dear Fiona, My eldest son is 18-years-old but we’ve banned him from drinking any alcohol and have warned him if we smelt alcohol on his breath he’d be in serious trouble.

He begged us to trust him and allow him a few pints but we refused because we love him and we’re scared.

He came home recently out of his mind after binge drinking for the first time. He wandered the streets to sober up because he was terrified of coming home and ended up getting beaten up.

We feel like terrible parents.

What can we do?

Regretful Parents

Dear Regretful Parents,

It's hard to accept your son is a young adult who must be trusted to make some decisions for himself — and some mistakes — in order to develop a sense of identity and self-esteem.

Over controlling or over-bearing parenting inevitably leads to resentment and rebellion but your intentions were honourable. What happened was what psychologists call an ‘unintended consequence’ where there’s an unexpected or undesirable outcome that was never part of the original plan.

You banned alcohol to protect him but it has resulted in your fears of him getting hurt coming to fruition.

Thank goodness he wasn’t seriously hurt so forgive yourselves for being over-protective and learn from the experience.

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