Ask Amy: Sober college student pressured to drink

June 18, 2013

DEAR AMY: I am a college student who doesn’t drink. I was raised in a very religious family, and it was instilled in me not to drink until I turn 21. My roommate drinks and pressures me to.

She and my other friends never invite me out because they think I will be no fun. They don’t even give me a chance to show them that I can be fun and not drink! One night I gave in and had a few sips of alcohol.

All of a sudden my roommate was inviting me to parties. When I went I felt very uncomfortable, yet at the same time, people were finally accepting me. A few people came up to me and told me that until that night they didn’t want to hang out with me because they thought I was too uptight.

Is it wrong to change what I believe in so that I can have a common bond with my new friends? I’m so torn on what to do — drink occasionally and have some friends, or stick to what I believe in and sit in my dorm room alone while my friends are getting drunk. What should I do? -- Torn

DEAR TORN: The job of the older teen/young adult is to try to answer these questions: Who am I? What do I want? The most important guiding principle is that you cannot let other people define you.

Ultimately, true friendships are all about authenticity and the possibility of being accepted for your true self.

By all means, go to parties and have fun without drinking. I assure you, as your friends get more drunk, you will either seem more hilarious, or they will become more belligerent and bullying. Your sobriety will put you at an advantage because you will still possess the ability to discern the difference.

Many universities now offer “clean living” dorms/communities. You should apply for a slot. You may not form friendships with every sober person you meet, but at the very least you will not be unfairly judged for having the integrity to live according to your values.

DEAR AMY: Yesterday I was out and saw a friend’s daughter-in-law with her 2-month-old baby. The young mom got in her SUV, put the baby on her lap — cradled against her and the steering wheel — and drove off, driving with one hand. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Should I say something to my good friend so she can let her son know the danger of not securing the baby in her car seat? So far, I am keeping quiet. I didn’t want to meddle, but I am quite bothered by her lack of responsibility. The new mom knows the rules — she has two toddlers as well. -- In a Quandary

DEAR QUANDARY: In the time you have taken worrying about being meddlesome, this mother could have created a tragedy through something as simple as a bump in a parking lot. Can you imagine the damage a deployed air bag would do to an infant literally cradled up against it?

There is no need to involve the mom’s mother-in-law in this. You should call the new mom directly, introduce yourself and say, “I saw you drive away with your baby cradled in your arms, and I want you to know I am alarmed and very concerned about how dangerous this is.”

The mom may be defensive (with two toddlers and a baby she is no doubt exhausted), but her reaction (or your fear of it) should not deter you from doing the right thing. This is truly frightening.

DEAR AMY: I was struck by the letter from “To Work or Not to Work,” the stay-at-home mom who felt judged by mothers who worked outside the home. I have been on the receiving end of this, choosing to work. How about supporting one another’s decisions? How about a little sisterhood?

Do you ever hear men sniping at each other about issues like this? -- Beth

DEAR BETH: Good point. I never hear men judging one another’s choices in quite this way.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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