Teenagers not drinking? I blame the parents

'Go on chap, have a beer' is repeated so often in our household that, could the walls speak, they would surely be on the line to Esther Rantzen


The scene in the local Polish restaurant had the flavour of a timeless intergenerational row. "You've obviously had too much. You really should stop there." "I'm not drunk! I'm just passionate!" said the other, refilling his vodka shot glass mid-song, for the umpteenth time.

What was slightly odd, as you might guess from the strangled ballad being "Bridge Over Troubled Water", is that the one doing the rebuking was me, the 17-year-old son, and the one being affably if deafeningly drunk was my 50-year-old father. He ignored my pleas to sit down, shut up and drink some water, and continued to sing the chorus, with the vocal dexterity of an elephant with its trunk in a mangle.

But then, perhaps it isn't so odd. My relationship with my father seems to have become the norm, as last week's news that teenagers are behaving much more abstemiously than their predecessors confirmed. "Go on chap, have a beer" is repeated so often in our household that, could the walls speak, they would surely be on the line to Esther Rantzen. "Don't bother with your homework – book learning's wildly overrated" is another mantra oft reiterated when I choose to stay in and knuckle down like a "nerdy squirt". As I type, my father is requesting that I abandon my journalistic hopes and dreams to go out with him.

A couple of months ago, when I was out with some mates celebrating the end of exams, a drug dealer sidled up and offered us some pot. "Going cheap!" We all smiled awkwardly, then buckled under the weight of our middle-class politeness: "Yes my dear fellow, thank you most kindly for the offer of this substance known to damage our bodies and minds in irreparable ways, but we must decline with the most sincere apologies" (or words to that effect).

When I told my father, he was surprised. While I have received the "Don't do [insert random drug]" lecture so often that I can recite it by heart (with correct intonation and cadence), I'm not sure he expected me to take it seriously. He never expects to be taken seriously, in fact, and with good reason, and he certainly didn't expect my friends to take any notice.

It is virtually a cliché that today the young have little prospect of walking into a lucrative career, and none at all of affording their own homes, or even rent. Getting into a decent university is a performance that takes all joy and lustre out of learning itself. My generation has to work for grades and university places, and even if you're a straight-A student, one boozy photo on Facebook could turn a prospective employer away. We literally and metaphorically cannot afford to lie about the place – we have exams to pass.

The prospect of living at home for decades while trying to scrape together the deposit on a converted outside loo in Brixton isn't enticing. But home it is … Still, at least the old boy will have someone to keep him in line and provide the discipline every adolescent of his generation so badly needs.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas