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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1699
Experience:  Parenting Workshops, Teacher, PHD Clinical Psychology, 30 yrs. Exp. 4 Children
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My 20-21 year old nephew from upstate NY is driving 4 hours

Resolved Question:

My 20-21 year old nephew from upstate NY is driving 4 hours to come and talk with me because he's been feeling very sad. I understand that one of the issues is that he's having trouble fitting in and accepting the friends around him because of drinking. Having seen his Mom and Dad both have trouble with alcohol, he has always been dead set against it. Now his peers are all indulging too heavily and he's having trouble respecting them.

My personal feeling is that moderation is the aceptable. I, myself, have never been drunk in my life as I never drink more than 2 drinks at any one gathering. But to avoid it and not respect others for drinking is only dividing him from his peers.

How would you advise this young man?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Keane replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Keane :

I can help you today. Alcohol causes all sorts of feelings to emerge in a person who comes from an alcoholic family. Many kids have decided never to drink due to their fear of repeating the behavior they have seen at home. However, there are those who choose to drink in moderation and not be so "black or white" about alcohol. If he is looking to you for advice on the subject you should tell him your feelings regarding alcohol however do not try to convince him to do the same. He is smart since he knows his peers are all drinking heavily or too often. What you can do is validate that you hear what he is saying and offer alternatives such as different choices, friends who don't drink as much (they are out there), school clubs where the groups are not into the party scene. If he is having a problem respecting them I give him credit for his maturity, unfortunately he is going to need a chance in his social life and find new friends.

Dr. Keane :

change not chance.

Customer:

Yes, thank you for that. Finding new friends is not trivial, even his girlfriend is among those who he is having trouble with because she drinks. I am wondering about his tolerence level, whether he doesn't mind them having a beer or starts getting upset when they start going too far. Finding new friends is not easy and he can feel very alone along the way

Customer:

I am going to guess that he is frustrated that he cannot convince them to his way of thinking and the evils associated with drinking. I am sure he feels like he doesn't fit-in, I know I didn't when I was in college.

Dr. Keane :

It is difficult when one doesn't feel as though they fit in and as mature adults we can offer up our experiences as proof that it does get better, but they want instant remedies which we don't have. Fitting in with the "group" is a choice and there are always other choices. Unfortunately it takes maturity and time to figure that out. I would suggest you just validate what he is feeling and get him to express what he would like to see happen. It's unrealistic to think they will not drink at all (especially while they are in college) . He trusts you enough to drive four hours to talk and maybe he just needs a sympathetic ear and reassurance.

Dr. Keane :

I would tell him that it's his choice and he needs to look beyond the here and now. That friends come and go, and that his fear of alcohol may not necessarily be their fears and he needs to respect that they make their own decision too. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that he has to make his own choices and he can't control others.

Customer:

Just wanted to follow-up, we had dinner together. My nephew has stopped seeing his girl friend because he can't handle that she drinks, even a little. It doesn't bother him that some of his friends drink, it's just his girl friend that he doesn't like drinking. It's not because he's trying to control her, just the opposite, he has "set her free" to mature and explore these experiences in hopes that she will outgrow them so they can be together in the future. He finds it too stressful that she drinks and he cannot worry about her as it causes he a lot of anxiety. So, his now X-girlfriend is his friend and dating others. He is jealous of her talking to another guy around him (texting, on the phone), she even asks his advice about him. I felt that he is hanging on and putting himself in an unfair position, kind of in a limbo. He hasn't moved on, but he's waiting for her and it will clearly take a long time for her to evolve, if she ever does. Interesting situation.

Dr. Keane :

it is a mature decision he made although it will be painful for him at times. He is standing by his beliefs and doing what is best for him. Glad you were there for him. Please accept so I get credit for my responses.

Dr. Keane :

Thanks for the follow up too.

Dr. Keane, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1699
Experience: Parenting Workshops, Teacher, PHD Clinical Psychology, 30 yrs. Exp. 4 Children
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