Giving Your Kids Sips Of Booze Will Turn Them Into Teen Lushes
Think giving your kids a taste of alcohol at home will lead to a more sensible approach to booze in their teen years? Think again. According to a new Australian study conducted by The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, teenagers who were allowed to sample their mom’s gin and tonics as kids actually ended up drinking more, not less. Great, now my whole Parenting Plan About Booze has gone to crap! Reports The Sydney Morning Herald: “The researchers found that 15 and 16-year-olds who were given alcohol by their parents at age 12 and 13 were three times more likely to be drinking full serves than those whose parents had not given them alcohol.”
I was given sips of wine and beer at the dinner table as a kid; as a teen my parents even let me have a small glass of wine at holidays. I got what they were trying to do: teach me how to drink responsibly and safely. I always though this approach worked and was fully planning on implementing the practice when my kids got older. I felt comfortable talking to my parents about alcohol and appreciated that they didn’t treat it like a taboo, immoral thing. But then again, I also polished off a bottle of champagne at my friend Sarah’s house when I was 16, walked into a walk, and then vomited foam for two days after. So maybe these dudes Down Under are on to something?
Professor Richard Mattick, who conducted the study, said that “early parental supply of alcohol through school years 7 to 9 was the single biggest predictor of drinking in year 10. It was more influential than family circumstances, individual psychological risk factors and peers.”
It’s been thirty years since America bumped the drinking age up to 21, and yet our cultural relationship to alcohol is still incredibly problematic. (I definitely competed in something called The Drinking Olympics in college.) Many have argued in favor of loosening restrictions like our wine and cider-loving friends in Europe, insinuating that showing kids that alcohol is no big deal would alleviate our binge-drinking ways. (Not to mention: Europeans are also way more open about drinking during pregnancy.) But if this is a problem in Australia, where the drinking age is 18, would it make any difference here? Excuse me while I ponder this over a sip of Pinot. And no, you can’t have a sip.
How did you learn about alcohol, and what are you teaching your kids about drinking it?