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Cocktails with Your Kids?

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Giving kids a sip now may prevent chugging later, experts claim.

The idea of giving alcohol to kids is guaranteed to start a little controversy--but research (and many Europeans) suggest that introducing teens to the 'beauty of wine' early can prevent binge drinking later. One family's debate in the NY Times created a little 'buzz' here in the office.

While one ML'er admits to the occasional sip of wine and a frothy drink called "Pink Panties" that created a bigger curiosity in her teenage years, experts say that teaching kids responsible drinking is better than forbidding it altogether.


next: Spring Break: Mom vs Teen
38 comments so far | Post a comment now
Al April 2, 2008, 10:29 PM

My parents gave me wine with supper, especially when we went to upper-class restaurants. Of course as many university students do, I and the gal pals partied, but, I also know a lot more about wine (and other alcohol for that matter) now than if I had never been given the opportunity to try new and exciting things in my own home.

bb April 2, 2008, 10:29 PM

Well, it has not been too long ago that I was a child, and now I am a mother. I do not agree with the time between 18 and 21 where kids are not allowed to drink, but they are concidered an adult and can do time in jail for it. That just seems ridiculous to me. I am also a criminal justice major and study these thingsin class, and also have been a case manager for substance abusers. I think that allowing children to drink with there parents would help more than hurt. It is at what age do you allow it? In Wisconsin children are allowed to drink with their parents after age 18, I do believe this is correct to date, unless the law changed but I do not believe it has. This does not produce alcoholics, it gives the child a choice, and they do not feel like they have to go behind their parents backs and hide things. After all this is what produces manipulators which is what is a mjor part of addiction. We all know thay when someone tells us not to do something the first thing that we do is want to do the exact opposite.

c April 2, 2008, 11:19 PM

I definately Disagree with this. Coming from alcholics on both sides of my family, there was a 90% chance for me to be alcholic, this is true also now for my daughter. Starting drinking at a young age just introduced me to the feeling earlier and started me earlier.

Sharron April 3, 2008, 12:44 AM

Come on if you’re born onto an alcholic family, (as I was), learning about responsible drinking at an early age from a partent can only help. I did not, but I’m am also not an alcholic. Nor is my daughter, whom I allowed to drink Small amounts of wine at special events. Granted this was done at an age where it would not do her any harm . But it also took away the from doing something forbidden ay a later time.

Chrissy April 3, 2008, 7:22 AM

I come from 2 alcoholic parents. They taught me at a young age about alcohol. I was having sips of beer at a young age. I hardly ever drink now and I am 30. I will NEVER become an alcoholic. So I agree its good to teach our kids at a young age and even allow them to sip.

Lesa April 3, 2008, 7:40 AM

Wow, this is going to go over like a lead balloon. First of all it’s illegal. But if we can imaging changing the laws for a second I don’t think it’s the worst idea. Anything that’s taboo can make a kid more curious about it so when the situation arises that they can actually experiment with alcohol with their just as clueless friends—that can be a bad situation that also leads to more secretive drinking with their friends. Therefore they are forming their own ideas and practices with alcohol that YOU the parent were never involved in. Remember YOU the parent made it taboo. ‘Just don’t do it’ was the only thing you told the kid. I have never given alcohol to my child but I have definitely asked them to smell it. They loathe the smell. They like virgin drinks and sparkling apple juice. I have often wondered if I was doing something wrong by allowing them to have the non-alcohol versions of the drinks we have. Who knows. All I know is my parents made drinking taboo and that is the first thing besides sex that I ran right out to experiment with as soon as I could. I was 15 years old. I am trying to do things different with my kids but I know I will not break the law to try this “experiment parenting”. Interesting idea though and I kind of agree with this article after giving it some real thought.

Sharon April 3, 2008, 8:23 AM

I’m just wondering about something, and a couple people already hit on it somewhat… I thought people were supposedly born alcoholics…with the propensity. That is what is being taught anyway. So if someone is and has alcohol at any age, wouldn’t that start that craving or whatever? I must say that I am from a very German family, both sides. Beer was at everything (family reunion kegs), and I remember we were allowed sips from early on (though I think it’s nasty, basically it was encouraged)…the teenage boys still always got into the keg (even though there were alcoholics/ drunks a the family reunions). My mom would allow us one glass of wine (ammount varied with age up to a glass) at the holidays (which I think is a responsible way of doing things…personally I don’t agree with the first method).
I’m also wondering about people who say their families are alcoholics but they were taught about alcohol & allowed to drink. That doesn’t make sense to me. Most kids either learn to act the same or act the opposite. You could be an exception…
My last thought, alcohol just isn’t a necessary thing in life. Plenty of people survive without ever having any, especially in the modern world with clean water and other drink options readily available. My husband’s family is (modern) Mennonite and do not drink at all and amazingly have survived and become responsible adults for generations not wasting money on things they don’t need, including alcohol. Not saying that they wouldn’t if they drank a little, but there are no non-functioning alcoholics, that’s for sure. :-)

Sharon April 3, 2008, 8:27 AM

Actually I thought in all of the United States it was legal for parents to allow their own child alcohol in their own home (free country, your home your castle). :-)

Cherry April 3, 2008, 8:32 AM

It is not illegal to serve alcohol to your own children. It is illegal to serve to other peoples’ children, so you may not have a party serving minors.

Many families serve wine or beer and the children that are allowed to taste and share (often in a watered down version first)most often have a better understanding and appreciation. It is a perfect time to teach moderation. They do not see alcohol as a challenge to try and ‘drink all that you can’ once away from the adults.

Lesa April 3, 2008, 8:59 AM

I had no idea that is wasn’t illegal to serve alcohol to my own children. Thank you for the enlightenment. I’m actually very surprised. Wow.

Morgan April 3, 2008, 9:01 AM

i agree. i think that your parents have a choice whether or not to serve their own children alcohol or not.
when i was a kid my parents would make us a “cherry coke” (cherry whiskey and coke) on a cold winters night. We would sit there and have a conversation almost like we were adults on our own. I found that givin the experience in a controlled enviroment I didn’t need to go behind my parents back and drink uncontrollably. Besides they were the judge at that time whether or not i was responsible to handle it. I thnk I will do the same with my children.

Melanie April 3, 2008, 9:23 AM

My teen daughter brought the info that it is NOT ILLEGAL for guardians to offer their OWN CHILD alcohol in their own homes from a driving course of all things, LOL.

I’ve come to agree with this philosophy and offer my teens small amounts of alcohol in the safety of our home for special occasions. Perhaps my two teens and their younger brother (who hasn’t partaken, yet) will be more responsible in their late teen and early adult years than their adult sister has been (who was not allowed to drink - but did when she was not in our presence without our permission)

Angie April 3, 2008, 9:24 AM

Well, when I look back at my highschool years. The first thing I can remember was the saying “Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll and alcohol.” Trying to find out who was going to have the biggest ..hush, hush party to brag about on Monday. I feel that as a parent, if you instill love, trust and faith in your child and you talk about choices, conciquences, and peer pressures, you leave a better chance of your child not sneaking around. They will ALL have curiosities and will experiment in SOME way, that’s just our human nature! And NO.. most will NOT wait until their legal age. Soo being said all of that. I would rather my child taste an alcoholic beverage in the comfort and safty of my own home than to have them out, in a car or at a party with the option to drink and drive.

Jo April 3, 2008, 9:28 AM

I was allowed to take an occasional sip of beer or wine growing up in the 60-70s. I do, however, remember drinking excessively on the sly from an early age. I now have 3 children ages 14, 13 and 11. We have allowed them occasional sips of different types of alcohol using this time to teach them about wine tasting, but also how just a sip can alter their mind, mood and balance.

I tell them that when they are ready to see how a regular serving of wine or a beer will affect them both physically and psychologically, then I want to be the one to share it with them. Then use it talk about the effects of alcohol both good and bad.

altesse April 3, 2008, 9:39 AM

My father was an alcoholic….he gave me sips of his beer every here and there. My grandfather gave me sips of his shnops and beer every once and a while. as I got older, about 13, I could have small glass of wine for special occasions. And you know what, when I turned 21…I drank a lot. I partied… but I didn’t get out of control. And I never did. But I still di drink alcohol, and went to bars everyday, for a while in my 20’s. I met my partner at a bar! Now that I have a child, I will share stories with her about drinking, how it makes you feel. How it almost got her Dad killed. But, I WON’T let her test it out!!!! She can have her first drink in front of me, yes. But, this finding is rediculious!!!!

karen April 3, 2008, 9:43 AM

i am ok with giving my daughter a taste of whatever. my question is, at what age do you give the first sip?

Alley April 3, 2008, 9:53 AM

I am 25, my first drink was at 16—not with my parents, but with my boyfriend at the time. I got drunk. Looking back and seeing how my now fiance (dif. guy thank God) was raised, he’s Polish—I think it is better to teach your children the responsibility that comes with making the decision to drink. If the children see it and it’s not a big deal, then it’s not going to be this “hush hush” thing later that has to be hidden. My parents never drank that they thought I knew, but they did, just not around me. I learned to hide the fact that I drank from my parents for a long time. Same goes with sex. I think most parents are uncomfortable with the discussion or don’t quite know how to say things or back up their feelings so they just say “Because I said so” or “Don’t do it” or by threatening privileges. I would much rather my kids (in the future) know that they can talk to me and trust that though I may get disappointed in some things they do, I will never judge them or not love them because of it. Would you want your child learning responsibility and self control or learning to binge from their peers? I have been there and seen both sides. I don’t have to have experience raising children to know the answer to this.

Amber April 3, 2008, 10:30 AM

My Friend and I were allowed alcohol at the age of 13 or 14 from her mother who did not drink. I do not recall the amount being moderated. I mean we got like a bottle of Strawberry Hill or something similar to share which was (looking back) surely too much. Her father was an alcoholic, but was never present. I abused alcohol for many years, until I had a spiritual experience and quite honestly was delivered from the desire to be out of mind. She on the other hand is a full blown alcoholic ,who has lost her child, cannot hold a job, and has done many acts considered immoral throughout life to feed her addiction and not become homeless.

Who can really say? How many Europeans have become alcoholics and do not consider themselves to be so? From knowing the stories of more than a few alcoholics, through a friend who regularly attends AA, it is not something people are usually readily able or willing to admit.

Deborah April 3, 2008, 10:37 AM

I also agree with BB. You can go off to war and die but not drink a beer, how crazy is that??

ann  April 3, 2008, 11:39 AM

I do not agree with giving kids alcoholic and the one problem I have with many people I know that let their children drink is that they are trying to be friends with their kids, not teach them anything. Also, many adults that I know that let their children drink also let other peoples children drink in their homes and I really have a problem with this.

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