Teaching kids about alcohol: Savvy or stupid?

Katherine - posted on 05/07/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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Growing up in the buckle of the Bible Belt, alcohol was not something that appeared in our home; or even in the small town where I spent my formative years. Unless, of course, you're talking about down by the tracks where teenagers met after talking someone into buying beer and wine coolers. But parents, who pretty much belonged to one of the three protestant churches in town, did not drink and certainly did not want their children to even consider alcohol. Which is what led to the bingeing and dangerous driving.

My husband and I have talked about being open about alcohol with our kids in order to not make it a big deal. My daughter knows what wine and beer are, and that it's for adults only. But also that it's nothing to get hysterical about. Treating booze as this forbidden thing would surely pique their interest, right? Unfortunately, no.

It looks like going all French in our home isn't going to help my kids make better drinking decisions once they're out on the town as teenagers. A new study shows that cultures with permissive drinking rules, where drinking at home is allowed, have children with higher rates of binge drinking than those in puritanical American homes.

It seems that kids who may be familiar with the social drinking from home, don't always maintain that level of responsibility when out with friends. This bums me out, as I was sure I was onto something when dissecting my own explosion into bad behavior as the direct fault of my overly strict mother. Doing the opposite with my own kids has made me feel like I'm being open, honest, and realistic. While I'm not against these things, it is disappointing to think they may not keep my daughter from doing a keg stand when she's 15.

Of course talking to kids about alcohol (and drugs, and sex, and cutting, and all those other crazy things) is the best way to try and get ahead of destructive behavior. But sharing a cold one to make it "normal" apparently does nothing. Okay then, more beer for us!

How do you treat alcohol in your home?

I'm surprised about the study....I was under the impression it was the opposite.

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/07/2011

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I truly prefered pot, and hope my kids do to. I am sure I am gonna get beaten up for that one ;)

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Minnie - posted on 10/31/2011

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We're completely open about it. The girls know about wine and beer, and Evelyn watched a documentary on how wine is made- she was fascinated, because it involves microscopic critters. And we make yogurt and kombucha here, so she gets to compare the fermenting processes.



They know that alcohol is for grown ups. In Evelyn's words, 'there are chemicals in alcohol that can hurt my body because I'm too small. So wine is for grown ups." I'm not opposed to them having some wine at family gatherings when they're older.

Leeann - posted on 10/31/2011

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It does help, my parents drank socially while I was growing up, I even had my first sip of chapine when I was 5. Knowing about made me feel less inclined to 'have to' do or the 'urge to' when I hit 15. Now thats not to say I didnt do it, peer pressure can be a bitch, but knowing the deep disappointment I would receive from my father by not being responsible, well lets say I stayed good for as long as I could.

JuLeah - posted on 05/08/2011

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I don't think it is about beer or any kind of drug, I think it is about behavior .... I know folks that spend 12 hours a day on the computer and use games as an escape from reality. I kow people that use coffee, coke, as an energy pick me up instead of getting enough sleep. I know folks that use sugar and carbs as a way of dealing with big emotions and making themselves feel better. This is no different really then using beer, or pot ... they all kind of do the same things to your brain.
If people are able to change their reality if it needs changing, address issues with honesty, respond with maturity to whatever life tooses at you, live with your emotions and not hide them or hide from them ... then a beer now and again doesn't borther me at all. Well, I don't like beer, but you get my point :)

Janessa - posted on 05/08/2011

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Maybe in America I have known so many people from French culture as well as European that have respect for alcohol. Because I believe in talking to your children the better choices there can make. Not all young people are going to listen to there parents but I notice if there have respect for there parents there will wait longer and be more careful. I guess I am 22 and I notice with my friends and myself.I also will be open about alcohol in my own with my son and future children I guess also being from the french caribbean culture we are very laid back to certian things. I talk to so many European from all over Europe and there are not much older then I. This women was about late 20s-very early 30s told me that in Greece her parents would ask her to pick up alcohol in the stores to bring home. I think Certain aspect of cultures should come back like that.

Christina - posted on 05/08/2011

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In the state of Texas, it is not illegal to give your teenager alcohol. I am not quite sure what we will do when he is a teenager, but I do know that if he is choosing to drink (and lets face it, if a teenager is determined to do something, there isn't much you can do to stop it besides locking them in their closets, which most people frown upon.) but I do know that I want my son to do it in my presence than out with his buddies. My son already knows that when he is a teenager, if he decides to drink and be stupid with his friends, he better call me, or his dad, or his step-mom or step-dad to come pick his butt up. He will get in trouble for getting into a car intoxicated, but we won't come down on him for drinking. I want him to know he can call us no matter what, no matter what he's done, instead of being afraid of us finding out and getting into a car and possibly killing someone.

Merry - posted on 05/08/2011

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Idk, matt and I never tasted alcohol until legal age, neither of us have had the slightest interest in getting buzzed, absolutely no desire to get drunk.
Soooo, how did we get this way......?
My dad had an occasional beer on special days, we smelled it and hated it. Mom said we could try a sip once, but we all refused. I had an accidental drink of red wine while visiting a Lutheran church not knowing their communion was wine, not grape juice like our church.
I nearly threw up, it tasted awful. That's it until I was married and 19 when matt turned 21 and we both had our first tastes of alcohol, besides my communion accident of course :)
We tried a bunch of things as our friends wanted us to try them, but never liked anything much. Most tasted just awful, revolting honestly.
We both like mikes lemonade, and some coolers, and fruity girly drinks. But both of us agree the alcohol taste in it is bad, and we prefer virgin drinks.
How did my husband get this way? His dad was a seriously hard core addict in his young years, drugs alcohol smoking and really bad....he was clean by the time matt was conceived, but they were open with how he struggled and matt knew growing up that alcoholism ran in both families and so he never wanted to risk getting himself hopelessly addicted. Matt saw s older brother get into alcohol, and get messed up and hang overs and crap and matt never wanted to go through that. He also saw his mom casually enjoying wine at some meals, and being completely safe and stuff. So he knew some people can handle alcohol, some can't. And he didn't want to risk becoming like his dad and brother so he didn't try it.

So I thi it doesn't really matter as much how you teach your kids about alcohol, if they go to parties where there is drinking, they will likely be drinking too. No matter how they were raised.
So I think if you don't want them drinking, don't let them go to parties where there drinking. Hard to do I'm sure, but neither matt nor I went to any drinking parties and I'm really glad we didn't. Homeschooling should help us keep our kids out of these parties....
Other then that we haven't really discussed our alcohol stance yet, Eric is only 2 after all :D

Charlie - posted on 05/07/2011

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Yep see this is what I thought , it compared U.S to Australia .....we have an entirely different type of permissive drinking culture to that of Europe where most of the studies that were done on THEIR type of permissive drinking was found to show people grew with a healthy respect for alcohol and were much less likely to binge drink .

I think if they want a real handle on the situation they should at least cinduct the studies in the same countries .

We have known for a long time Australia has a binge drinking issue , we dont look at alcohol the same way Europeans do , alcohol here for teens is a way to get " smashed " unlike the use of it in euro countries where small amounts are used daily as a side drink with a meal , it is respected ....unlike here where teens abstain during the week then drink an entire case of beer at a party on the weekend .

Charlie - posted on 05/07/2011

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See the problem I have with that is there is permissive drinking where the adult models binge drinking as a lot of Aussies do ,Sadly it is part of our culture . Teens are then given alcohol in the home as it is deemed safer however if you have only ever seen binge drinking how else are you to know what is a safe amount and when to stop .

Until recently earopean children have grown up with drinking a part of family meals not part of the "drink to get drunk " culture , wine is seen as part of a meal not a tool to get wasted ...that is until recently where society feeds off TV shows that show drunkeness as high standard , something to be proud of , with increased exposure to binge drinking cultures and teens seeing being "trashy " ( think Jersey shore OR skins as being cool ) Its a little wonder things are changing , personally I feel it is more to do with society and what it holds on a peadastool and not less about how alcohol is introduced as a child .

Katherine - posted on 05/07/2011

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I wish I could find the study.....I tried googling it but came up with nothing.

Charlie - posted on 05/07/2011

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I would like to see this study and what countries it is based in .



There are different types of permissive drinking , permissive drinking in Australia is quiet different to that of european countries say Italy , Australia and Italy have two completely different attitudes towards drinking .



I also wanted to add that Italy has maintained responsible drinking habits always . Britan like Australia has a binge drinking habit .....It has been said that the influx of visitors and intergration of tourists is making an impact on their drinking habits from what has always been a well maintained part of their lives with children always participating in small sips of wine is now starting to see the binge drinking becoming part of Italian lifestyle in the younger generation , never before has this been an issue , this correlates more so with the increased tourism with more than ever before becoming part of their lifestyle and they ( the italians ) part of theirs .

[deleted account]

"My daughter knows what wine and beer are, and that it's for adults only. But also that it's nothing to get hysterical about."

Here is my problem with that statement: What teenager doesn't think she is ready to be an adult?

Maybe that's part of the underlying problem. Many parents are laid back about alcohol and make sure their children understand that it's an adult drink. So in a 16 year old's head, "It's not a big deal, and I'm practically an adult."

I don't know. I'm just speculating.

To answer the OP...how do I treat alcohol? My husband and I will drink on special occasions. We haven't really discussed how we plan to treat the topic as far as our girls are concerned. We'll probably fall into the middle of the spectrum. We won't be sharing drinks with our underage girls, but we won't tell them it's the devil either. I do know that we will expect them to obey the law...age 21. Whether or not we agree with that specific age....

Jessica - posted on 05/07/2011

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That study is a bit surprising, I'd be interested to know more specifics and confounding factors.

I guess the bottom line is, it could go either way. I guess my parents were always pretty relaxed about it. My dad and step mom always had wine with dinner. I never really paid much attention to it, though as a teen I did sneak away and drink whenever I could (which wasn't all that often, but still). I think it was just part of my rebellious phase. First time I got drunk was at 16, and it was off of 2 beers! Lol. At 17/18 my mom would bring wine coolers on our camping trips in the summer and let me have one. In college I drank like a fish because the bar on campus didn't card. It was ridiculous, I mean my freshman year I was there like 3 or 4 nights a week. But that was the peak of it, it slowly declined after that.

I think my parents did it the "right" way as far as I'm concerned- I went through a rebellious phase where I drank a lot, but now that I've kind of matured some I think I've come full circle. Since I have a toddler and a baby my chances to drink aren't that much- occasionally when we get a kid-free night I do like to have a few drinks, but that is rare lol. DH and I will also have a beer with dinner or after the kids are in bed; not getting drunk though.

Jayce - posted on 05/07/2011

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There was no alcohol allowed in the house while I was growing up. I knew what it was but never had access to it. There was no alcohol in my grandparents homes and none in the homes of most of my aunts in uncles. The first ime I tried alcohol I was about 16 and stole a sip from a bottle at the home where I was babysitting. I was curious and wanted to know what it tasted like.

When I went to college I went a little wild and earned the nickname Chugger. I spent some time praying to the porcelain gods. But now I don't really touch alcoholic drinks. It doesn't interest me. There is alcohol in the house - wine, but neither DH or I drink wine so it sits in the cupboard untouched.

I'm going to take Katherine's appraoch to alcohol. My son will be aware of it's existance. I'm not going to treat it like a forbidden substance. When he gets older he can try it if he wants. I'll tell him what can happen when you drink. Give him the information he needs and hope he makes good decisions about it.

[deleted account]

My paternal grandfather drank himself literally to death. My paternal grandmother had a cigarette and a beer the moment she got out of bed. My father drank heavily throughout my childhood, we were allowed to partake on occasion. I developed a taste for it as a toddler when I would go around sneaking sips when my parents weren't looking. So unsurprisingly, I have a touch of a drinking problem. I either don't drink at all or binge. There's very little in between. My son finds the scent of alcoholic drinks to be repugnant and he has shown no interest. He doesn't even ask if he can have a sip of champagne for example should it be around.

Constance - posted on 05/07/2011

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In my home my mom always believed that teaching about alcohol in the home was better than me learning from friends. But she alo had a stand when it came to me drinking at a party even now. She always said that if I was going to drink she absolutly did not wnt me driving or getting in a car with someone drinking. I admit I had a few crazy nights as a teenager but I have never been a heavy drinker then or now. But if I have one too many I do still call my mom to come pick me up. She never yelled at me for drinking she was glad I made the decision to pick up the phone not get in the car. She had her way of punishing me but she never yelled or grrounded me because she knew if she did I wouldn't call. I am teaching my kidsthe same way. If it prevents them from getting into a car under the influence of anything then we can deal with eveything else.

Lady Heather - posted on 05/07/2011

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I grew up with wine at the table for Sunday dinner. My dad was an alcoholic and I didn't even know it because my mum was so careful and wouldn't allow us to see anything that wasn't normal. When were about 16 we were allowed to have a glass of wine with the Sunday roast if we wanted to. My cousins were treated similarly. I guess it worked because while my dad's entire generation has drinking problems, ours has none. Sure, I had a few wild nights while in university, but I soon figured out that it wasn't fun to be drunk or hungover. Now I might have a couple of drinks a year.

I really don't drink at home and my husband has a beer sometimes while watching hockey. I am really careful at family events to not let Freja witness her alky extended family have at 'er. I don't know if she will partake in a glass of wine with dinner because we don't have it, but once she is about 16 if we are at a wedding or something like that, she can have a glass if she wants to give it a try. I think day to day stuff probably has a greater impact than the odd event here and there. And I think maintaining a good relationship with your teens is most important of all. Even when I did drink, I was responsible about designated drivers and that sort of thing. I didn't want to disappoint my mum.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/07/2011

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I think teaching kids about the effects of alcohol is important. When I was in high school, 11 kids died from drinking and driving IN ONE YEAR! It was devastating for the entire town, What a loss.

I really want to have an open relationship with my kids. I was a rare kid, straight edge when it came to drugs and alcohol....until later years. I know most teens are not like this. I want my kids to call me if they have been drinking. I will stress this with utmost trust that I would rather they arrived home alive and drunk, than dead. I have not figured out how to accomplish this yet, but my kids have a way to go before I need to worry.

Krista - posted on 05/07/2011

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I'm a bit surprised, but I honestly don't know what CAN prevent binge drinking.

With regards to alcohol, my parents fell somewhere between strict and relaxed. On very special occasions, I could have a bit. But it was a rare thing and wasn't treated casually.

I hardly ever drank in high school. There'd be the odd night when we girls would get silly on wine coolers, but most of my weekends were sober.

But did I binge drink in university? DID I? Whooo-weee. I partied and I partied HARD.

But so did my friend whose parents were super-strict about alcohol.

And so did my friend whose parents were more permissive than mine.

I think living in the dorm almost had more to do with it than anything else -- there was always SOMEONE who was ready and willing to go out and drink (or stay in and drink).

[deleted account]

As far as my kids go.... not sure how this is all going to work out.

As far as the question How do you treat alcohol in your home? I don't. Alcohol doesn't come in my home and it never will.

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