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tranquilsea's avatar

What are your thoughts on allowing teenagers the odd alcoholic drink at home with the family?

Asked by tranquilsea (17226 points ) May 19th, 2011

Do you think it shows teens how to moderate their drinking? Can it be beneficial in stopping the over indulging that can go on? Or do you think that doing so encourages them to imbibe and will cause more problems down the road?

How did your parents handle drinking when you were a teen?

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21 Answers

ddude1116's avatar

I think it’s best to not make a big deal out of it, at all. By making it less of a ‘big issue’ the desire to do it will probably disappear. At least, I presume so. Getting shit-faced never sounded fun to me, but some people do it just to rebel against something.

My parents never drank much, but when they do, I can convince them for some. Quite frankly, it doesn’t taste very good, except wine. Not that I’ve tasted much, but I prefer not tasting the alcohol.

TexasDude's avatar

I’m all for it. I think it breaks the taboo and the mystery that draws younguns to alcohol in the first place and makes them less likely to abuse it later.

keobooks's avatar

I think that banning kids from drinking alcohol at the table is an American thing. My grandparents are from Germany and it was never seen as a big deal to serve “kids” wine with dinner. When I was about 12 or so, I got a spritz of wine with a glass of soda water and gradually over the years, there would be less soda and more wine. It was never a big deal.

I’m the only person in my family that got into trouble drinking, but that had to do more with severe untreated depression and teen angst. But I should mention that in case someone is convinced it was because my parents and grandparents let me drink wine with dinner as a kid.

SeaTurtle's avatar

I think that it is an entirely sensible thing to do.
When was in my early teens I was permitted some watered down wine at special meals.

My cousins who live in Greece were permitted watered down wine with most meals from the age of 9, this is very common amongst Greeks and their culture does not have alcohol issues anywhere near that of us ‘westerners’.
(This question brings back memories, I remember one bizarre incident when on holiday in Greece at 11yrs old I accompanied my 9 year old cousin to go down to the local store and she was sold a bottle of brandy for our parents.Lol, thats just the culture over there & would never happen here but it gives you an idea of how stricter alcohol rules do not necessarily lead to sensible attitudes )

augustlan's avatar

I’m of two minds on this (as I am on so many things). On the one hand, I think it would be better if teens gradually grew into drinking in a family environment rather than being forbidden all things alcohol until BAM! they’re of age (or just out of parental sight) and they get all shit-faced drunk. The way they do things in some other countries (Germany?) just seems so much more civilized, and they apparently don’t have the binge drinking problems that we see in America.

On the other, in this (American) society, it could lead to all sorts of trouble. Not the least of which is trouble with the law. You’d also have to deal with the fact that your kids will know you’re breaking the law. If this law is ok to ignore, what about others? Is it ok to smoke pot? It’s a tricky situation, I think.

It hasn’t come up for me, yet, and I’m not sure how we’ll handle it when it does.

Bellatrix's avatar

I didn’t ever push alcohol at my children. I think there are enough opportunities for them to see people drinking and to perhaps want to participate. I also don’t agree with the notion that by letting our children drink at home we are somehow preparing them for drinking outside the home. I wouldn’t give them any other drugs and alcohol is a drug as far as I am concerned. However, while I have counselled my kids about the dangers of drinking, smoking and using any drug, I don’t think taking a prohibitionist stance is helpful either. So, if my teenage son (or daughters) asked for a beer at home (he never has) I would have said yes to an occasional drink if the occasion was fitting. Say at Christmas or birthdays or while all his male relatives were having a beer. You can drink legally at 18 here and he is now able to buy and consume alcohol legally.

I just feel we don’t need to educate our kids that consuming alcohol is okay. We have plenty of advertising campaigns and peer pressure to do that. I would really rather see us demonstrating that you can say no to alcohol and still be cool and okay. I think it is a different emphasis.

I should say my husband and I drink moderately and one of my sisters died as a consequence of her alcoholism.

jonsblond's avatar

My sons have no desire to drink really, so it’s kind of hard for me to answer. My husband and I drink, but we never made it a big deal that they should never pick up an alcoholic beverage to try for themselves, just that they should never drive if they do so.

My husband grew up with a father who made him fetch his beer cans from the refrigerator, so he swore he would never do that to his children. We have also never offered them a drink. It just doesn’t feel right.

My oldest son who is 18 was offered alcohol for the first time when he was in Germany last summer. Of course, it is very common for teens to drink and go to clubs there. He tried a few drinks and didn’t like many of them.

I guess my point in all of this is we never made a big deal out of it either way. Only that they wouldn’t be our slaves when we wanted a drink. They have turned out just fine. In fact, my oldest called us to come pick him up during a camping trip his senior year. He was uncomfortable because everyone else was drinking and he didn’t want to be around it.

keobooks's avatar

@Bellatrix I don’t think my family or any other European family is trying to expose their children to alcohol for the express purpose of teaching them to drink responsibly. I think alcohol is different in the time and place my grandparents grew up in. To my family, certain flavors of alcohol enhance the flavor of what you eat and enhance the meal as a whole. When my grandmother cooked, she would carefully hand select the best flavor to go with the meal. Most people in my family just slowly nurse a glass during dinner to draw it out.

There’s a whole ritual they get into with reading up on wines, selecting them, learning about the regions the wines come from and the growing conditions. My aunt gets on some weird kick with beers about the proper ways to pour each different kind of beer into the appropriate glass says if you pour it wrong, the flavor goes “off”. Maybe my family is weird about it, but I think there’s this ritual and lore that goes into spirits that is important to my family and other families of a similar background. The want their kids to participate and learn this stuff from the start.

I won’t be raising my kids this way. I don’t drink at all, and my husband never has (he never liked the flavor) But I do have fond memories of the little rituals and stories at the table about why a particular beverage was selected for this particular meal, what was the best way to serve it and how exactly did it taste. It’s just a family thing.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think it’s all about how alcohol is presented. My father always said that he’d prefer I experimented at home so I would know what it was like before drinking without adult supervision. As it turns out, I never started drinking—but it was still a good idea. He told me about his first experience and how he’d prefer I be prepared. He wasn’t going to stop me, but he thought I should know what I was doing.

Compare this to a friend of mine whose mother wanted to be the “cool parent.” She was allowed to have drinking parties at age 15 in her basement while her mom hung out upstairs. This was a very careless approach which made it seem like alcohol was no big deal and not something with which one should be careful.

Many Europeans, meanwhile, treat it as just another thing to consume and not as some gateway to adulthood/rebellion. The whole culture surrounding alcohol is different, as is their culture regarding sex. (In the US, a man who carries a condom is considered a cad who is expecting too much; in Europe, a man who does not carry a condom is considered unsavory and untrustworthy.) Again, it’s all about presentation.

Perhaps this is a strange analogy, but it’s a little bit like gun safety. When you teach respect for the weapon, children are less likely to play with it. When you treat it like a toy, so will your children. Kids learn their attitudes about alcohol from their parents. If the parents are responsible, the children are more likely to be responsible. There are no guarantees when it comes to parenting, of course, but there are still good strategies.

@augustlan It’s legal in most states for a parent to give a child alcohol within a private residence, so that’s one less problem to worry about.

tedd's avatar

Parents should educate their children on drinking responsibly and instill in them the idea that its not bad to drink under age and suddenly its ok when you turn 21…. it doesn’t make sense and we’d be far better off if we stopped treating it as taboo and just taught people how to not drink and act like a moron.

augustlan's avatar

@SavoirFaire Really? I had no idea. Interesting!

_zen_'s avatar

Odd.

Seriously, quite against it. Let them sneak it with their friends like everybody else – don’t set a bad example.

Rarebear's avatar

Agree with Zen.

everephebe's avatar

Jesus drank wine. And if his mother was 13…

jonsblond's avatar

@SavoirFaire I’ve never heard that (not saying you are wrong). I’ve heard of many cases where an adult was arrested for serving minors in their home. This is in Illinois. If it is illegal for someone under the age of 21 to drink, how is it legal to serve your own child in your own home? There’s a specific law for this? just curious

_zen_'s avatar

@jonsblond I asked it as a question – I’m curious too. How does the law distinguish between people breaking the law, as in serving alcohol to a minor? Does the law care if it’s a parent, grandparent or aunt?

augustlan's avatar

Here’s a chart for state-by-state laws. It’s illegal in my state, but seems to be legal in many others.

Bellatrix's avatar

@keobooks I didn’t say your family were, but I have certainly heard people put forward that argument. My post was not directed at anyone specifically here.

_zen_'s avatar

Arkansas:

Although underage consumption of alcohol is not explicitly prohibited in the law, underage possession of alcohol is prohibited without exceptions. According to the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), “Possession and consumption are closely linked because consumption generally requires possession.”

Generally.

They forgot the invisible beer.

Cruiser's avatar

I spent 3 weeks in Germany as an exchange student and it was quite the experience to be legal to drink at 17. What threw me off though was the 16 yr old younger brother in the family wouldn’t touch beer as he would rather have a warm Coke.

Seelix's avatar

Most teens are going to experiment with alcohol no matter what. Personally, I think it’s better to let them do that in the home with proper supervision. If a parent can be there to help them learn their limits and learn how to drink responsibly, I think the results would be generally better than if a teen drinks on the sly with her friends.

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