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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
Michele April 3, 2008, 11:52 AM

I was introduced to alcohol at an early age (12) along with the responsibility of drinking. By my parents doing this when it came to the point of my friends sneaking around to drink in high school I didn’t have the desire or need to do it. To this day I rarely drink but enjoy a drink here and there. I will most likely do the same with my children.

Alicia April 3, 2008, 1:20 PM

I am a Psychology and Sociology major… there are actually many studies confirming this. There is a MUCH lower alcoholism rate in countries (most studies concern European countries) where drinking alcohol is NOT a “rite of passage” or “grown-up” thing to do. When alcohol is woven into the culture as daily life (wine with dinner,etc) it is not seen as a status symbol and kids are less likely to yearn to do so and alcoholism rates are lower.

shelley April 3, 2008, 1:41 PM

iwas allowed to drink with my mother at home and no where else. i respected that because they let me experement at home. my husband on the other had was completly band from the stuff and alway snuck it on camping trips with hims buddys and hid it in his room. I know so many people with the same experences and the same out come. now that i have kids i agree, let them try it at home, with you where you can teach them responsiblity and moderation.
because college and friends houses or worse a camping trip gone bad is no place to learn about alcohol.

Anonymous April 3, 2008, 4:25 PM

My mom let me drink at home when I was young. I’m incredibly grateful for that. It kept me off the streets and from doing it around people with whom I couldn’t trust. I burnt out on drinking real fast and stopped before I even turned 18.

Lisa April 3, 2008, 5:37 PM

I am a parent of three teenagers which I gave all of them a sip at an early age..they all hated it and said “Eww that’s nasty” till this day at age 18 and 17 (twins) they done even want it around them..If you introduce them to it while they are young they will remember how gross it’s not the yummy 100% juicey juice that they just drank before “The Sip”..It will forever be embedded into their minds how awful it was..Like brussel sprouts.. You try it when your young and know you will never eat that again.. same thing with “The Sip”..If you wait till they get older they are bound to try it and think “Kind of nasty but it makes me feel nice” and from there they will start to become drinkers.

Douglas April 4, 2008, 10:17 AM

This is a great question, and I would have to agree that I am for allowing a parent to make the choice to allow their child to try alcholic bevearages. I come from a alcholic family, and spent most of my childhood years in bars. I do occasionally drink, but I have also been known to buy a twelve pack of beer and sill have about eight still in the fridge for a month or even longer. I was given the oppurtunity to drink at home when I was about twelve. I was always told that they would rather I do it in front of them then behind their back. I guess with me knowing this, there was never that thought of being reblious which is a problem with a lot of children are these days.

Becki April 5, 2008, 8:03 PM

I come from a family with alcoholics. However, my parents seldom drank…Maybe once a year. If they had a drink, I was given a sip. Once a year, my brother and I got to split a beer. I ended up being the one at parties that held friends’ hair, took keys from people too drunk to drive, and who took care of the ones that drank too much. I did drink at the parties, but if it got out of hand, I stopped and became the “responsible” friend. My son is due in June. I do drink more often than my parents did, and I will allow my child to taste it. I agree with not making it something that is taboo; however, I don’t think you should allow your kids to over-indulge. Along with adult behavior comes responsibility. That’s the important part of allowing this or any “taboo” behavior.

EG April 8, 2008, 10:30 AM

Read the article, guys, most of the topics you’re questioning are addressed in the article. Alcoholism, legality, etc.

Ann April 9, 2008, 9:42 AM

We were able to have one alcoholic drink at family gatherings once we turned 12 and my parents made sure we all knew our limit as far as drinking was concerned before we went away to college…they didn’t want us to be taken advantage of and that included my two brothers!…and we all were responsible when we did drink. My girlfriend on the other hand was NOT allowed to drink anything even though her parents did and she sneaked alcohol (any alcohol!) every chance she got! And some of my daughter’s friends got fake ids so they could drink when they were 18 and once they turned 21 most of them stopped cuz the ‘thrill’ was gone! And growing up I never heard of binge drinking…now it seems like you constantly hear about kids binge drinking….so I think parents should teach their kids how to drink at home and how to be responsible when you do drink!

JasonGoldtrap April 9, 2008, 9:43 PM

Almost 40 and I’ve never tasted beer. It’s hard to believe that I’m still alive.

Amanda April 9, 2008, 11:51 PM

I agree that it is not a bad idea to introduce wine or beer at a reasonable age. The first time I was ever allowed to drink with my family was a Christmas Eve dinner when I was 16. I am 18 now and it has definitely been a good move on my parents’ part. They were extremely strict with my (now) 22 year old brother and now he parties harder than I do. I see kids whose parents would never allow them to drink going crazy (binge drinking) when their parents aren’t around. And I find this extremely true in most every case. It all comes down to the parents’ choice, because after all it is legal!

Barbara April 10, 2008, 6:54 AM

I was raised in a family where we were taught by example by our parents. Do as I say AND do. Not do as I say, not as I do. When my parents had that rare drink (maybe three or four times a year, sometimes wine with dinner) my sister and I were also allowed a bit. When we were younger, it was /very/ watered down, but as we got older, the strength of the drink increased. We were raised to be responsible drinkers, and knew, when we were teens, if we wanted an occasional drink, we didn’t have to sneak around with our friends and risk getting caught, in trouble, hurt, or worse, as a result of an alcohol related incident. We could have a drink at home, in a controlled and relaxed atmosphere. To this day, I rarely drink, but occasionally will have a drink or two. I never had the urge to go out and get wasted as a rite of passage, nor did I feel the need to give into peer pressure, as a result of being raised responsibly in regards to drinking.

Heather April 10, 2008, 3:59 PM

I am 20. I was forced to drink wine with dinner when I was younger. I was told it was a civilized thing to aquire a tast for wine. I hated it. My mother is an alcoholic, and she left my dad for another alcoholic, so I can’t stand alcohol. I don’t drink. I graduated from a University where drinking was definitely everywhere, and I never drank. My husband used to party, and I would drive him home. To this day, I still don’t drink anything, even at home. I plan on telling my kids how alcohol can ruin lives, and let them take a sip of the worst wine available, or the raunchiest whisky on the shelves. They won’t want to drink after that.

Aeife Darvra April 10, 2008, 7:50 PM

My mom’s parents were strictly against EVERYTHING, and she did it all as soon as she got out there.
I was told… sex, drugs, alcohol, all of it… “I know you’re going to try it. I don’t Want you to do it- but I know teenagers do and you probably will.
Make sure you’re in a Safe place, with Safe people that you Trust.”

I’m 26, waiting until marriage, didn’t get drunk until I was 19 and now Rarely drink…

On the other hand, my father expressed threats of extreme physical violence if I ever started smoking and… within a Month of his death 7 years ago, had started smoking!
Don’t terrorize your children: They really WILL do it just to spite you, as soon as they’re AWAY from your rule.

Not that most of you probably do, I’m sure you don’t. Just tossing that out there. =)

Oh! And my first taste of wine was off my dad’s finger @ 3 months; he was a maker, — sips out of parental cups were normal. And yeah: Why go get drunk god knows where when you can enjoy the FLAVOUR at home?
My best friend used to sneak into his G’mother’s liquor cabinet, refill w/ water, and decanter some glass spice bottles, secured by duct tape!

Johnathan April 10, 2008, 9:05 PM

Growing up both my sister and I was denined the chance to drink. Now i’m almost in my 30’s with two children of my own I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same way. Due to some sever issues in my life I was what could be consided an borderline alcholic. I have learned my leason, I took God into my life and was able to gather the stregth to push the bottle away. It also says in the Bible, drink of the wine, but don’t become drunk from the wine. I know thats not the exact words but we all gather the concept. Teach responsablity, respect for other people (not drinking and driveing) and respect for themselves. I lost some very close loved ones due to alchol, teach them the responablity of being a DD.
Kids are smarter than we give them credit for

Cory April 12, 2008, 9:36 AM

Today in America the law states that alcohol cannot be sold to anyone under (21)but those under 21 get it any many are responsible and many are not.Great debates have surrounded this question of giving (Sips)to minor even in a parent home enviorment.Every Man, Woman and Child reacts differently from drinking there is no right or wrong answer a Parent(which has no handbook)
must debate this answer within their own selves and make a morale decision with how they feel about it.Please do not allow the goverment another foothold on a parents right to choose whats best for their child.We as parents have a responsibility to our children and our society in which we live to make the best choice whether morally right or wrong.Children should know that for every action there is a reaction.This question is not an easy one for we are diversified with our religions and upbringing our social class.Our children see a Parent act responsibly while drinking and 90% of them will also act responsibly.
Regardless of which a parent chooses to do it should be done with little to no interference from the goverment,stae and local officials who have their own children to deal with.
Stay out of my parenting rights and allow me the honor that God has allowed me to teach and raise my children according to my religious convictions.

M.A, April 12, 2008, 8:58 PM

I was in high school in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam war. They made drinking legal at 18 and when I went into the bathroom at school girls were getting drunk before school, guys would stop at the party store before and buy it. we also had a smoking court right in the middle of our school Even back then I was always the DD I held me friends hair out of their faces while they vomited. I dated one of the biggest pot dealers in the city and never smoked pot. but my older sister was in University she worked at free clinics and at medic tents at concerts for people overdosing. she was a wild child but shared her experiences with me, it scared me straight. I am hesitant to share this with my teens because it involves the people I love the most my dearest friends and family, But i will give them all the details soon because their father is a alcoholic who is now homeless and living in a shelter he has not seen his children for 3 years his choice. when he was in his first rehab they had a program for CoA it was a great learning program.
i talk often to my children about drinking and drugs because of all I have seen I’m not heavy just informative and I answer their questions and give them advice. I tell them they can always put the blame on me so the peer pressure wont be so bad
we also talk about sex and its many problems. I don’t think you need to drink with your kids i think you need to have open communication with them .

P.S. my drug dealing boyfriend was killed by gunshots in front of a crack house at 39 yrs old, oh and we are white suburbanites.
It can happen to anyone

mothergoose April 15, 2008, 7:59 AM

I grew up with an alcoholic mother..Fortunately I can have a drink now and then with moderation.My children’s dad is a functional alcoholic.They have seen the results of his excess between the short term effects as well as what it has done to our lives.Even so I believe they can see the good side of alcohol as well as enjoying a half glass of wine with cheese and crackers, or one wine cooler on vacation.I want them to see that you can use alcohol in moderation and that one wine cooler does not lead to an being an alcoholic but a responsible person who can enjoy it from time to time.They are naturally curious and let us face facts, why are the liquor stores so busy ? It is not the teens in there, but us adults purchasing our makings for mojitos,martinis or wine coolers.Teenagers do seek the unknown and forbidden.If they put their mind to it they can find access easy enough.It is usually all the other reasons that influence their alcohol abuse,not nessessarily the alcohol itself.This is where you as a role model comes in to play.
Thank you for reading my post.

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