The Dos And Don’ts Of Drinking With Your Parents


Vegas, baby. Sin City. The land of drinking, gambling, pool parties, beautiful women, and in my case, parents. The Arcadia men are going to Las Vegas in a couple weeks to celebrate my cousin’s 21st birthday, a tradition that first started when my dad took me five years ago. Shit, I’m old. This will be my third time going with him, and just like the past two trips, I expect it to be a blast. However, that’s not say it hasn’t been a learning experience. As someone who never really drank with my parents prior to these trips, boozing with my father definitely took some getting used to. Now that I’m a pro, I’d like to share some tips with you.

Do start slow.

You don’t necessarily have to babysit a beer an hour or anything crazy like that (especially in Vegas), but you should make an attempt to ease your parents into your drinking. While they’ve deemed you old enough to be able to sit at the table and share a drink with them, that doesn’t mean they think you’re a complete grownup. I suspect that anyone that wiped your ass is never going to be able to fully think of you as an adult, so don’t give them any more reason to doubt your maturity. Don’t be the one to initiate shots, shotguns, or god forbid, a beer bong. Basically just drink like a normal person, if you can remember how that’s done.

Don’t turn down drinks.

Keep in mind that you’re not the only one feeling out the situation. Your parent is also trying to figure out how to act to seem responsible and not ruin the image you have of them. The last thing you want to do is say no to something. They’re either going to think you’re judging them and revert to parent mode, or they’ll think they raised a pussy. Last Vegas trip, my father ordered my brother and I drinks that had two shots of Bacardi 151 in each. It was later concluded that he didn’t know what Bacardi 151 was when he ordered it, and that drink culminated in the three of us taking a mid-day nap, but the point is, we drank them without hesitation.

Do let them pick the bars.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I’m getting more and more into “old-folk bars.” I’m talking about places where you can get a seat, converse over the sound of music, and people watch. Establishments where the 65-year-old bartender is also the owner, and very willing to talk your ear off about his grandkids. A place with an actual jukebox that doesn’t have a touchscreen. Your parents are giving you a glimpse into their world, and not only does it make for a nice change of pace, it’s cool to share something with them. Whether it’s a dive bar with “the best martinis in the city,” or a Mexican joint where your mom goes for her weekly Margs with the girls, accept the invitation with pride.

Don’t go to clubs.

Look, your parents are cool, but they’re not that cool. Night two in Vegas my brother, cousin, and I are hitting Hakkasan, a triple-decker club featuring some hard trap music. Luckily, my dad immediately bowed out (and convinced my uncle to do the same), but not all parents are so self-aware. Don’t give your mom or dad a courtesy invite to a club. They’ll hate it (because, well clubs are the worst), you’ll hate it (because you’ll feel them judging you for liking it), and it will turn into a bust of a night. Know your limits, and know what is appropriate and inappropriate parent situations. I know there are people whose “moms are their best friends,” and who take handle pulls with their dads at tailgates, but frankly, it weirds me out. They might be fun, but they’re still your parents. Know where to draw the line.

Do buy the first round.

The best way to combat the weird parent/friend quagmire is to place yourself on equal footing. Order the first round, showing them that, despite the fact that you’re still their baby, you’re also an adult now. You can order drinks, buy drinks, and drink drinks. It’s what you’re comfortable with. Nay, it’s what you’re great at. This is your habitat, and you’re not scared to show it.

Don’t buy any other rounds.

Whoa, easy there, cowboy. You proved your point. You’re a grownup who can take care of themselves. However, you’re here with a much higher level of grownup who can take care of you better, financially. No need to break the bank just to show off, my friend. Let mom and dad get the next one. And the next one. And the next one. Save your money for when they inevitably cut you off when you’re merely halfway into your night.

Do open up.

I know they’re your parent, but in this bar after several rounds, they’re also your friends. Feel free to share a little insight into your life. Maybe you want some relationship advice, Maybe you’re thinking about changing jobs. Whatever it is, they’re your parents, and they looooove giving advice. That’s what they live for. Give them a chance to do it. On the flip side, feel free to offer some advice on your own. Your parents will likely open up a bit about their own lives, which, as weird as it is, is a good sign. It means they see you as an equal. Don’t fuck that up by clamming up when they give you a peek into their lives.

Don’t try and get laid.

I’ve heard stories of friends with single dads who go out hunting for girls together, and honestly, it grosses me the fuck out. If you’re with your parents, you’re not going to get any that night. It’s ok, champ. You can take a night off. The last thing your parent wants to see is you drunkenly hitting on someone, or god forbid, making out with them at the bar. Plus, if you fail, do you really want your mom or dad watching their kid get brutally rejected? You’ll pretend you can’t see the shame in their eyes, but that memory will replay itself every night before you go to sleep for the rest of your life.

How you hit on people at the bar should not be a part of your life that you share with your parents. Do you want them judging your taste, your game, or even worse, going up to randoms and telling them “my son/daughter thinks you’re attractive?” Nope. Nope. That’s a waking nightmare. If you had too much wine and can’t stop yourself, limit it to harmless flirting with the server or bartender. But be warned, your parents might do so too, and I can’t guarantee the outcome. Last time I went out with my dad, our waitress (who was an attractive girl my age) outright ignored me as my dad charmed the hell out of her. It was very demoralizing.

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Nick Arcadia

The opposite of a life coach. Email or DM me if you want some bad advice:

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