Dear Margo: Riesling Soup?

Should I tell my sister how to behave with my parents? Margo Howard’s advice

Riesling Soup?

Dear Margo: I am a 27-year-old graduate student in the Northeast. On holidays, I go home to spend time with my parents and two sisters. They are in the South, where the majority of the town is conservative and religious. My father is a church deacon, and part of this commitment involves a vow not to touch alcohol. He has always been afraid of liquor, in part because he had an uncle who was an alcoholic and could not keep a job.

My parents know that my sisters and I drink socially. For a while, this was a source of conflict in the family, but finally, they adjusted. I never drink in front of them, and our family has always used sparkling grape juice for toasts and holidays. Everything seemed fine, until recently.

Over the past year, my older sister has made a point of serving alcohol at family gatherings. A year ago at Thanksgiving, she tried to serve wine to my parents and their friends, one of whom is also a deacon. It was very awkward, as no one would accept, but she was being extremely pushy. This year at Christmas, she brought home a bottle of Riesling to put in a soup and wanted to serve it with the meal. This was at my parents’ house.

My younger sister and I think her behavior is disrespectful to our parents and only serves to stir up tensions that had just started to subside. Is it our place to say something to our sister about her behavior, and if so, what to say? –Alcoholic Awkwardness

Dear Al: It is, indeed, your place to say something, and what I suggest is: “Lay off.” Her aggressive pushing of alcohol is just one step away from someone trying to get a 12-stepper to “just try it” or, worse, sneaking it into food. Alcoholics can get into trouble even with a touch of liqueur in a dessert. While I understand that your parents are abstainers by choice, and not alcohol abusers, your sister is showing quite a bit of hostile pushback for who-knows-what reason. You might ask her why she has made it her project to get everyone to drink, and then tell her to stop it. –Margo, preferentially

Surprises of the Not Great Kind

Dear Margo: A couple of months ago, my sister, “Sarah,” found out by accident that the man on her birth certificate isn’t her father. My grandmother let it slip long ago that she had a suspicion that Sarah was only my half-sister, so this didn’t surprise me. However … it has done a number on Sarah.

She’s met the man who actually fathered her and has also met two half-brothers. She says they are decent people. My question is: Is there anything I can do to help her as she grapples with the shock and other emotions this has caused? She’s only 17 and doesn’t have much of a relationship with our mother. My fiance and I are the only people to whom she’s revealed this information. This changes nothing between the two of us, and I want to be as supportive as I can for her. –Unsure in Arkansas

Dear Un: If it’s possible, perhaps your sister could see a counselor, just to hash out the conflicting emotions. What you can do is reinforce your love for her, reiterating that the new developments change nothing and she is free to forge a bond with the “new” family — or not. You might also tell her that the situation she finds herself in is becoming increasingly common and it’s a plus to know who your biological parents are, if only for health histories. I think she will be fine with some TLC. –Margo, supportively


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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45 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Patti Spencer says:

    I am with Margo on this one – I myself am very sensitive to alcohol – my doctor even has it listed as an alergy! (I get plastered on an O’Dule’s!)  For the parents who do not wish to particapate in drinking of any kind I side with them.  The sister who is doing the pushing, needs to be told to back off – and if she doesn’t listen to the sisters, then mom and dad need to let her know that they will not be issuing any more invites to her!  She is not honoring her mother and father – for us Jewdao/Christians – this is the 4th commandment!  She needs to learn how to do this fast – or she could risk loosing  her family over it.

    • avatar gyzmette says:

      I agree that the sister in L#1 is not honoring her mother and father, but for the record that is actually the 5th Commandment.  #4 is “Remember the Sabbath Day”

      • avatar John Hlavaty says:

        This may surprise you gyzmette, but in the Catholic church, “honor your mother and father” is the 4th commandment.  If you did a Google search for “10 Commandments” and then “10 Commandments Catholic”, you’d find very similar lists – all essentially stating the same thing, but with some subtle differences.  The Commandment stating “I am a jealous God” was removed and the “coveting” parts were split up.

        As for “honoring” her parents, I think this is more of a passive-aggressive issue.  LW#1’s sister may have had her fill of her conservative parents and wants to show that a little alcohol is fine (after all, Jesus drank wine).  However, to keep the peace, I do suggest she back off and enjoy alcohol at her own home or when she’s not around her parents.  Plus, pushing alcohol on anyone is never acceptable.

    • avatar Susan G says:

      I’m alcohol-sensitive too–not alcoholic–and it’s amazing the hostility my abstinence arouses.  I’m definitely quiet and non-judgmental in declining booze, but some make it their business to survey everyone else’s intake. I suspect those types are pretty dependent on the stuff.

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      Let’s reframe LW#1’s question: What if sis was spiking the food with a date rape drug or cocaine, or loading the brownies with pot? Alcohol IS a drug. Be clear: Sis wants to drug guests in the home of her parents, and the letter writer is wondering how if something should be said? Clearly being educated all the way up to grad school didn’t do much good. I would call the cops on her. Honestly.

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Why don’t people just let other people be?  I don’t see anything particularly sinister about the sister having a bottle of wine for guests in her own house who happen to imbibe, but to push it on people she knows do not drink is just sort of…hostile…or  at least impolite.  Would  she demand they light up a cigarette too if she happens to smoke?  My parents were not drinkers although they did keep a couple of bottles in a cupboard for guests (usually these bottles were 10 years old or more) and if they knew guests liked a cocktail would try to find out what kind of liquor they liked and serve it to them matter of factly.  If they came to my house for holiday dinners, I would have wine for those who wanted it but didn’t even put a wine glass at their place setting because they just didn’t want it…it wasn’t a moral or alchoholic issue…they just didn’t find wine/liquor appealing (although my dad would have a beer every year or so on a really hot day).   Sounds like the sister is either undergoing a belated adolescent rebellion or has a drinking problem and wants to *normalize* it.    My husband and I drink socially but in all the years we ate dinner at my parents home I never recall us coming with a bottle of wine for us to drink there, put in the soup, or otherwise.  It wasn’t a conscious decision *ooh…they don’t drink…we won’t have wine there*, it was just not even thought about.

    So yeah, tell the sister to back off and you might also ask her why she is so obsessed with alcohol all of a sudden.  I know that wine in the stew enhances certain dishes, and in my particular family, adding some wine to the pot would not have been noticed or cared about at all, but in LW1’s family, it is evidently an issue.  Why create conflict over Reisling in the soup?  Such a waste.

    Margo is right on with LW2.  Let your sister know she IS part of your family come hell or high water but respect her right to explore the birth family.    


  3. avatar Rebecca Godina says:

    The first letter really has me boggled. Such a weird thing to do! I’m wondering if this sister is really upset at her parents, or if she’s become an alcoholic herself.

  4. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    Sounds to me like Sloshy Sister is pushing all the booze to cover up just how much she’s actually drinking.  If everyone has a glass in front of them then her constant refills won’t be quite as noticeable.  LW should keep an eye out as best she can for signs of her sister abusing alcohol.  The whole reason their dad doesn’t drink is because of an alcoholic uncle; she’s part of that gene pool and may have strayed down that path.
    Whatever the case, LW needs to get the point across that shoving a glass of wine on people who have politely said, “No,” is unacceptable.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      I tend to agree—I find that enablers are often imbibers and will push their behavior on someone else to establish a feeling of normalcy in their own lives. It infuriates me to be around these kind of people—my ex was trying to lose some weight via Atkins and was doing quite well. We went to visit a friend who practically shoved candy and other high-carb foods in his face—which he naturally fell off the wagon for. What really pissed me off was that the friend then commented that my partner could stand to lose a few pounds, since he was the typical “fat American.”

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        As far as LW2—I would stress to your sister how lucky she is to have found out not only the truth, but that now she has the opportunity to establish close familial ties with other relatives. Her family has grown—not shrunk.

  5. avatar Maggie W says:

    It appears that LW # 1 is far more than just a social drinker.  Nothing worse for an alcoholic than being the only one drinking at a party.  She was attempting to remedy that.  She could question her sister’s behavior, but I doubt she would get an honest answer because the real problem is not the parents’ aversion to alcohol.    

    • avatar Margo Howard says:

      This makes sense to me.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      I wouldn’t go as far as saying the sister is an alcoholic.  The LW probably would have indicated that.

      It’s pretty crazy, but since the age of like 15, I’ve had all kinds of friends/acquaintenances pressure me and others around me to drink.  Most, if not all of these people are not alcoholics.  They are, however, very controlling, self-absorbed and rude people.

      These people are convinced that everyone must conform to their idea of a fun dinner party and that means you MUST drink.

      I drink socially now, but it always bothers me to no end when I hear people pressuring others to drink.  Not only do I remember how much I hated being pressured as a teenager, but now, I hate it even more since it’s pushing alcohol that I could be enjoying on someone who has zero interest in drinking!

      • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

        The LW states that she and her sister live in different areas and get together at holidays for the most part, so it could very well be that the drinking sister is a ‘functional’ alcoholic when around family.  Again, it shows that she very well could be forcing the drinks on her family members because she really needs a fix, but doesn’t want to be obvious.

  6. avatar Margy says:

    I drink but I hate when people push me to drink when I don’t feel like a beer or wine or anything with alcohol. “Why? WHY?” “Come on, have a drink.” “WE are going to drink!” I don’t stop anyone from drinking so I wish people wouldn’t push me to drink. I don’t drink to please anyone else.

    • avatar Dan Bingham says:

      I’ve often wondered about this myself– I don’t drink, but I sometimes find myself around people who do, and there is almost always someone who takes my non-drinking as some kind of personal affront.  It completely boggles me.  Can anyone explain?

      • avatar Tiffany says:

        I’ve noticed that, too.  I drink because I enjoy it, but when people choose not to, I don’t think anything of it.  There’s a friend of mine, though, who gets VERY pushy about plying people with alcohol, and he’ll often make comments like, “We’re so wasted, aren’t we???” (the answer is almost always no, I like to stop at a nice buzz) and then days after the party, he’ll say things like, “Oh yeah, but we were all so plastered…”  I think it’s purely insecurity.  Whether the person is technically an alcoholic or not, he obviously feels some sort of guilt or embarrassment about his behavior while drunk, so he wants everyone around him drunk too so that his actions don’t seem so out of place.  Revising some history and telling himself that everyone was wasted probably also helps him protect his ego.  In my friend’s case, it’s not as if he ever says or does anything all that odd, so I think it’s a control thing – he’s a bit of a control freak in real life, and when he drinks, he lets go of that and he feels a bit ashamed.

  7. avatar Claire Saenz says:

    News flash:  Not all people who abstain from alcohol following a history of addiction are “12 steppers”.  The world of recovery is much larger than that.

  8. avatar Karin Smith says:

    LW 1: Perhaps it’s time the family lays down a “no alcohol” policy. Your parents need to let Big Sis know that she’s wanted and welcome at family events, but if she’s not willing to join her family without booze, then it’s better that she not come. In doing that, the choice is completely up to her; if she doesn’t come, it’s not because you all didn’t want her, it’s because alcohol is more important to her than her family. And if she does try to show up with alcohol, tell her that she’s welcome but the booze isn’t.
    And kudos to you and your younger sister for being sensitive and intelligent enough to respect your parents even though you all have different views. Your actions make those of Big Sis even less excusable.

    • avatar amw says:

      This will only work when a family gathering is somewhere other than the sister’s house.

      The larger problem is the sister pushing alcohol on guests that she knows don’t and won’t drink.

      I must agree with other commenters…it sounds to me like sis has an alcohol problem she’s trying to disguise

  9. avatar MSLLL62 says:

    LW #1 your sister is rude and insensitive by trying to force alcohol on people who do not want it. Apparently alcholism runs in the family and I am concerned the sister is actually one. That is such a lack of respect. Alcohol could do damage to people taking certain medicines. No means no! I would have stepped in immediately. Yes it may have caused a scene but the sister should be told!
    I too found out that my namesake father was not my real father. My mother had an affair and got pregnant with me. I found out because of a hereditary disease both parents had to have in order for the child to have. I do not have the disease. My namesake father, Daddy, found out too. Of course he was hurt but I was Daddy’s little girl. I never met my biological father or his family. I was the only family member to have children. My children carry the disease but do not have it. They called him Paw Paw. I lost some respect for my Mother knowing she had lied to me for years. That is not the only thing that she lied to me about. I loved my Daddy very much. Now you have two Daddy’s to love you. Consider yourself blessed!

  10. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Margo’s replies to both letters. My mother is a deliberate abstainer, also due to religious sentiments; I’d never dream of even indirectly forcing liquor or beer onto her (not even in cooking). My parents could be real pains in the backside when it came to all of their convictions, which I did NOT enjoy having pushed onto me as a kid/teenager. But as an adult now, I have no right to try and force (or trick) my mother “out of” her continued convictions (father is now deceased).

  11. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    LW1’s sister sounds really annoying. Is she pushy in other ways?
    LW2, it would be helpful to know if the non-bio dad is in the picture and what his place is in all of it. If he’s not involved, then the bio dad could be a really great thing. Heck, he could be a great thing even if the nonbio dad is around – depends on how adult the adults decide to act. But either way your sister is in for some drama because that’s what teenagers are all about. When she tries to make more of it than it is, stay calm and say things like “I know it was a shock to you, and you should not be in this position. But I love you and it changes nothing for me in our relationship – I will always be your sister.” Rinse and repeat as needed. Get to know her new bio family too if you can and she wants it.

    • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

      Just to add to what I said, she is only 17 and she really should feel as if she has a safety net around her – it sounds like your mom isn’t providing one. By getting to know the other half of her bio family you are strengthening that net by giving her adults who are able to work together to help her as she transitions into the grown-up world.
      Just my 2 cents.

  12. avatar lebucher says:

    LW#1, my first visceral thought was that pushy sis has a drinking problem.  In my life experience, all the heavy drinkers/alkies I’ve had contact with have pushed drinks on me.

  13. avatar Messy ONE says:

    Re: LW #1
    She may or may not have a drinking problem. I suppose it’s possible, especially given that there was an alcoholic on her father’s side of the family. Sometimes a tendency toward addiction is genetic. She might also just think her parents are overly adamant about the alcohol issue. What she’s doing is rude, though, and I have to wonder why the sister has to ask someone if she should talk about it.
    I know that in my house, wine is served with dinner. Period. People are free to drink or not as they see fit, I really don’t care. If a guest decided to lecture on the evils of alcohol, they wouldn’t get another invitation. I would never be so rude as to try and convince someone to drink when they don’t want to, but I demand the same respect when I do have wine with dinner.

    • avatar cleogirl says:

      Agreed.  Overly adamant or not, their house, their rules and the sister is being rather rude and is the equivalent of a teetotaler lecturing you about the evils of the demon liquor.  I’d love to come to your house, though, if wine is always served.
      Frankly, I have to commend the parents because dealing with a pushy person like that can often lead to needing a drink. 🙂

  14. avatar Briana Baran says:

    As a recovered alcoholic, I do not keep any alcohol in my house. My husband rarely drinks, because he doesn’t care for the taste of most alcoholic beverages ( particularly beer and wine), but it doesn’t bother me if he has a drink at the few social gatherings that we attend.
    When we have friends over, they are welcome to bring the beverages of their choice, but with the following caveat…I never let people leave my house while under the influence. I do hide keys. I care about my friends. And if a person chooses to become truly drunk, they will probably not be invited back. I grew up with an alcoholic grandfather, mother, cousins, aunt and an uncle or two…and all of them were vile, abusive, narcissistic, hateful people. I have no tolerance for drunks.
    I don’t care of wine is served at dinner, as long as I am not pushed to partake (my father’s family…the non-alcoholic infested side…always served wine at dinner, even tiny glasses cut with water to the children. My grandparents came from Italy, and my grandpa made his own wine). I have no dogmatic issues with drinking, and no social problems either…but I do think that alcohol is the most dangerous drug in America, legal or otherwise.
    As for the sister, she is being a beast. Trying to force her agenda (and it’s clear she has one, if not what it might be) on her parents is not just rude, it’s offensive and selfish. I’ve known a lot of alcoholics, family and otherwise, and most detest drinking alone, and will go to great lengths to force others to “Get with their program”. I do understand the father’s fear of alcoholism, and that alone is worthy of her respect. I might privately roll my eyes at the dogmatic concept of the evils of drink (Torah, the Old Testament, and the Q’ran all have sections that allude to the positive nature of the fermented juice of the grape, and, when those texts were written, many people drank little else because the water and milk were contaminated and the source of disease. Pretty amusing, eh?), but I wouldn’t be trying to prove my own iconoclastic point of view to my father the church deacon at this stage of our lives.
    So, yes, LW1, tell your sister she’s causing a lot of tension at family gatherings, be decent enough to ask her why (but realistic enough not to expect a rational or mature answer), then tell her to either stop harassing your parents…or stay home.

  15. avatar Gerri Lynn says:

    I care a lot about wine in both food and to drink, not because I have problems with alcohol, but because I have problems with sulfides that are used in many red wines and some other wines, too. Major migraine trigger, one of my few. I always make that very clear to any host/hostess, and they usually offer other options.

    I’m also a vegetarian, and I hate it when people push meat at me. It rarely happens, but when it does, deflecting the push really puts me on edge. I can see the same reaction happening with teatotallers and alcohol. Seriously rude to push where it’s not wanted, whether it be meat for vegetarians, bread for gluten allergies, or wine for those who don’t imbibe. LW1 definitely needs to speak up.

    • avatar Michele Dahlberg says:

      Gerri Lynn, in case you didn’t know, there are lots of food sources for sulfites (and all wines have it at a low level, since it is a by-product of fermentation). Be on the lookout for: baked goods, olives and horseradish, puddings, most junk food, jams and jellies, dried fruits and veggies, all “cheese products”, and some kinds of fish, to name a few.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      My son has a friend who is Jewish, and who politely informed me that he couldn’t have any meat on his pizza because there might be pork in it. No problem, he got a cheese pizza with olives (I know that this may not exactly be keeping kosher, but the young man switches affiliations from time to time, and we just roll with it). If a guest in my home was a vegetarian, I would want to know to what degree (for instance, if s/he were vegan) and would plan accordingly. Not difficult for us, we consume very little meat as is, and I do a lot of strictly vegetarian cooking for health reasons. We even inquire as to whether people are allergic to cats before they come over, so that we can put our friendly felines in a safe, comfortable place away from our guests.
      When I go to other peoples’ homes, I carefully avoid cream and milk heavy dishes (I am allergic to milk, not lactose intolerant), and certain other foods that might make me ill. I don’t drink wine, but I tell the host or hostess in advance. I would never push meat on a vegetarian…likewise, I appreciate being able to decline a rich, heavy dessert graciously and politely.
      The one thing I absolutely cannot tolerate is cigarette or any kind of tobacco smoke. If there will be smoking at the party, I won’t be attending, and I don’t allow any smoking in my home. Which is one of the reasons my mother won’t visit. It isn’t only children who lack respect.

  16. avatar Ellen Carlson says:

    Riesling in soup? Yuck. That’s proof enough that she’s working some nasty agenda.

  17. avatar flyonthewall says:

    Regarding letter #1, the older sister in my opinion is quite selfish.  Does she feed peanuts to those who are deathly allergic?  She sounds like she just doesn’t respect others.  I can’t stand people like that.  I have had people try to force alcohol on me and shame me into a drink.  Didn’t matter to them that I don’t drink because of health problems.  There were plenty of others around me drinking so it wasn’t like they would be drinking alone.  No, I was the challenge and they were going to conquer me and defeat my wishes.  That is how I see the pushy sister in regards to her parents.  She is just going to keep at them until she gets her way.   Most definitely, she is an alcoholic but because of the religious factor, I think her motives go beyond just not wanting to drink alone.  She wants to push her acceptance of alcohol onto the parents and have them believe just as she believes.  I think the letter writer and her family should put their feet down and ban the disrespectful one from gatherings if she is going to push alcohol on those who do not want it.

  18. avatar Anne Whitacre says:

    I wouldn’t make the assumption the sister has an alcohol problem.  it sounds to me like she just wants to be “right”.  (whatever that means to her).  I’ve met an awful lot of pushy people whose efforts to herd other behaviors have more to do with insecurities, a lack of purpose in their own life or just a sense that no one listens to them than trying to cover up a drinking problem.
    Since this aggressive behavior is relatively recent after some years of an alchohol truce, I think the first question is why has her behavior changed recently?   You might get an answer like “Mom disagress with me about how I raise my kids and I’m sick of it. I’ll show her!”.  if there have been years of unspoken rules about alcohol, then it sounds like something else is pushing her buttons.
    Nonetheless, it seems perfectly appropriate to say “knock it off” to the sister.  As for the soup with Reisling, if its boiled, the alcohol flashes off.  however, there are several non-alcohol containing reislings out there, and she should have brought one of those. 

  19. avatar John Lee says:

    “I’ve met an awful lot of pushy people whose efforts to herd other behaviors have more to do with insecurities, a lack of purpose in their own life or just a sense that no one listens to them…”

    This couldn’t be more true.  I think that’s the heart of maybe 50% of the advice columns questions.  It’s amazing how little substantial purpose many people have in their own lives that they feel the need to make stupid agenda to force on others into their life purpose. 

  20. avatar Lindsey M says:

    I’m actually surprised by how many people are automatically jumping to the conclusion that the older sister is an alcoholic as I didn’t get that impression from the letter at all.  My impression is that the parents are rather controlling (as just *knowing* about their daughters’ choices to socially drink outside of their presence caused conflict — really? that seems extreme and controlling to me) and the older daughter is simply being more genuine about her lifestyle, having wine at celebrations is quite common.  Perhaps not for everyone, but it’s certainly common for many.  She’s in her late 20s or early 30s after all.  We have no indication that she was drinking more than a glass or two of wine with dinner.  I imagine if she was actually drunk or drinking more than that at these family functions or otherwise, the LW would have said something.
    It sounded to me like the daughters were tipping toeing around their parents with the drinking issue and it’s finally settled down and the LW is upset that the oldest is having the *audacity* to drink in front of them.  It is a little crappy to have to drink sparkling grape juice like you’re 15 at events simply because that’s your parents’ choice.  If there is a recovering alcoholic in attendance, I can understand everyone making the sacrifice.  But since there isn’t, this sounds a little draconian to me, especially if the event is being hosted at the older daughter’s house.
    Pushing alcohol on people is never acceptable — but she merely offered it to her parents and guests on ONE occasion.  Perhaps she was pushy about it as the LW states, and that’s not right, but still it’s a one-time thing.  Perhaps she was being some passive aggressive, rebellious issue and going about it the wrong way — trying to show her parents that having a glass of wine at dinner was completely manageable.   But to jump to the conclusion that someone is an alcoholic based on that?  Wow.  That seems very extreme.
    The only other episode?  She brought riesling for a soup recipe and once again had the *audacity* to ask that it be served with dinner.  No pushiness even stated here — just the mere presence of wine.  Once again, seems pretty low level to me.  I cook a lot and there are TONS of recipes, especially in French and Italian cuisine, that call for wine.  If it’s a hot dish, the alcohol cooks off anyway so there isn’t any actual alcohol in the dish — it’s just for the flavoring.  So presumably, since it’s soup, the alcohol would have cooked off anyway (unless they were serving a cold soup like vichyssoise — but doesn’t sound like it).
    I interpreted this letter as the older daughter wanting the room to be herself and make adult decisions regarding drinking.  That having a glass of wine with dinner at family celebrations shouldn’t be a big deal, shouldn’t be interpreted as lack of respect for her parents and she shouldn’t have to tiptoe around her parents’ feelings on it for fear of it causing conflict.  Just as the older daughter should respect her parents’ decision not to imbibe, so should the parents respect their ADULT daughters’ choices to drink socially.  So long as the drinking is responsible, there really shouldn’t be an issue on either side.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      because people looove to call people who drink “alcoholics.”
      according to most advice columns, if you’ve ever been drunk and liked it, you’re an alcoholic.
      even in this week’s letters, we have a guy who had one drunk uncle… and has been “scared of alcohol” his whole life.  c’mon deacon, grow a pair.  yeesh.

      • avatar E Kinsey says:

        I’m not going to say that enjoying the occasional buzz makes someone an alcoholic, but I feel that for you to be so dismissive of the deacon’s feelings towards it to be rather boorish. I had a rather profound and disturbing experience when I was five years old that completely shaped the way I view all drugs, and yes, I include alcohol in that grouping. It involved two of my uncles nearly killing each other while high on god only knows what. I didn’t touch alcohol until I was of legal age, and even now, 14 years later, I’ve never been *drunk*. I might have a drink now and again, but once I get tipsy, there’s an automatic switch in my head and I’m just done.  You don’t know what kind of experience the deacon had that makes him so adamant against alcohol, and what’s more, just who are you to judge him for it?

        • avatar chuck alien says:

          i hear what you are saying, but….
          i’d say that living your whole life hung up on something that disturbed you when you were 5… seems a little limited or something to me. i don’t tend to shape my opinion of things on ideas i had when i was a tiny child, you know?
          as for the deacon, you can’t be “scared of alcohol”… it’s just a liquid. it can’t hurt you. so he’s really afraid of himself.  and living your whole life afraid of yourself… seems sort of sad as well.
          at the same time, i totally understand people with a high probability of alcoholism avoiding alcohol.  so sure, i get it. but i don’t think that was his situation.  or yours.
          and i’m judging him because he and his habits were put up for our general entertainment on a commentable advice column. that is the definition of “fair game.”  yes, it was his son that said it… but hey, the old guy is in the arena now, so judging will commence.

  21. avatar Lindsey M says:

    I also have to back Chuck on this as well.  I understand having alcoholism in your family or a predisposition to addiction being a concern and why you may choose not to drink–you personally deciding that it’s not the worth the risk (or perhaps just not liking the “reward” of alcohol).  I have alcoholism on both sides of my family, so I’m aware of the concern. However, I don’t let that concern rule my life.  I found a balance with it that I’m happy with and that works for me.
    The problem I have with the LW’s father is that he’s taking his personal choice and forcing it on to his adult daughters.  He’s using his fear and vow to control them — so much so that the LW NEVER drinks in front of him and her parents even knowing about her social drinking caused conflict.  To me, that’s ridiculous and a perfect example of someone taking their issues and projecting it on to others where it’s really inappropriate.
    It would be like a teetotaling gf telling her bf that he can never drink because her ex was a raging alcoholic.  So long as the bf is being responsible, the fear of a raging alcoholic is the gf’s not the bf’s.  Sure, she may choose to date only non-imbibing people as a way to deal with her fear, but it doesn’t change the fact that the problem is with her not with others.
    Same goes for the LW and her deacon father.  There should be enough tolerance for both groups of people to co-exist with mutual respect.  That the drinkers are allowed to drink and the non-drinkers are allowed not to drink (i.e. not have alcohol pushed on them).
    I find it very disturbing that the LW has framed this as a respect issue — a very common controlling parent device.  If your children disagree with your values, then it’s disrespectful.  You should be allowed to make your own choices without it being interpreted as disrespect to another.  Children are not extension of parents; they are their own people.  There should be a difference between disagreement/personal choice and disrespect.
    To me, the LW sounds very immature, needs to cut the apron strings, loosen up a little and not try to control her older sister’s personal choices.

  22. avatar A R says:

    Having been reared in the Deep South with a set of Southern Baptist parents who eschewed alcohol as if it were the Devil’s own creation, I say there is more here than meets the eye. The sister resents her parents’ choices which were forced on her for years (even as an adult), and this is her way of making a strong stand.
    Unfortunately, making a stand in mom and dad’s home is not okay. She should feel free to drink as she chooses in her own home (or even cook with wine as the alcohol usually evaporates), but she needs to quit trying to convert mom and dad.
    This is a case of a grown woman who is still unduly affected by her parent’s abhorrence of alcohol and her (likely true) perceptions that they are judging her. For her own peace of mind, it’s high time to both quit caring what mom and dad think and quit attempting to prove that she doesn’t care.

  23. avatar Diana Danh says:

    This is a stew that uses a nice sweet white wine in it and it is delicious! I’ve used riesling in it before and it was great! LOL

    Just thought it was funny since this is one of my favorite recipies and I immediately thought of it when I saw the title above. 🙂

  24. avatar Lepidopter Phoenyx says:

    I drink. My husband is in recovery and does not. My dad drinks. My mom is Baptist and does not.
    Family gatherings are often held at my house because I am the only one in my family who really likes to cook.
    Every adult present has several beverage options – beer, wine, fruit juice, milk, iced or hot tea, soda, coffee, water, or whatever they wish to bring for themselves. Children have all of the same options, minus the ones containing alcohol.
    If I have a beer, that doesnt’ mean that anyone else should feel obligated to have a beer if they don’t want one.

    Sis sounds like the type who would invite a Jewish family over and serve them shrimp cocktail and bacon cheeseburgers.